Shanthi Soundarajan, Athlete, Born in 1981, in the village if Kathakkurichi in the Padukkotai district of Tamil Nadu, she grew up in acute poverty.
She was from a family where is never used to get 3times meal during all her childhood. She lived in a house where there was no bathroom, running water or electricity. She one of five Children of her parents, she over came severe malnutrition to become the first Tamil woman to win a medal at the Asian Games.
She has won 11 international medals for India, close to 50 for Tamil Nadu.
At the 2006 Asian Games, held in Doha, Qatar, Soundarajan won a silver medal in the women’s 800 m race, finishing at 2 minutes, 3.16 seconds.
She has to undergo sex test after the games, which indicated that she did not “possess the sexual characteristics of a woman”. She was diagnosed with hyperandrogenism, a condition which meant that she had excessive testosterone in her body. Striped of her silver medal, Shanthi was shunned everywhere. She was banned from competing by the Olympic Association and she even tried to kill herself.
“Everyone looked down at me. Everyone was looking at me this new way: Is she a man? Is she a transvestite? It’s very hurtful. It ruined my life and my family’s life”, Shanthi said.
Her coach P. Nagaranjan said that the hyperandrigenismcould be the result of her growing up in such a poor household where she never got three meals a day. The first time Shanthi ate three proper meals in a day was in 2004, at the age of 23.
She was given Rs. 15 lakh from the Tamil Nadu government for everything she achieved, which she used to train younger athletes.
Soundarajanhad extended her support to sprinter Dutee Chand, who was also diagnosed with hyperandrogenism in 2014. In July 2015, Chand contested her disqualification, and won her case. Sounarajan is hoping this will work in her favour as well.