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Homechevron_rightSportschevron_rightRetiring for more...

Retiring for more family time: Preeja Sreedharan

Retiring for more family time: Preeja Sreedharan

Thiruvananthapuram: All set to retire from athletics after the ongoing National Games, top Indian long distance runner Preeja Sreedharan on Saturday said that she has decided to call it quits not because of age but due to her desire to spend more time with family.

The 32-year-old Preeja said although she can continue to give good performances, her priority now is her family.

"I have been on the tracks for around two decades. I toiled hard in these years to better my sporting career. But, on the other side, I got very little times to spend with my family. So, I think it is the suitable time to stop or at least take a break from sports to spend more time with my near and dear ones," Preeja said.

The national record holder, who grabbed 10,000m gold and 5,000m silver in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, denied that age was a factor in her decision to retire.

"I think long distance runners can showcase good performance even after they cross 30 years especially during early and mid 30s. There are many foreign athletes who have done this. This has no connection with my retirement," she said.

Preeja said in other countries, women continue to touch new heights even after starting a family but in India, they are more or less expected to quit after marriage.

"Majority of us prefer to wrap up our career after marriage. This reflects poorly on our society," the Arjuna awardee said.

Hailing from Idukki district, Preeja said she had earlier planned to retire after last year's Incheon Asian Games but changed her decision after coming to know that Kerala would be hosting the 35th National Games.

"I thought my final race should be in my home state in front my own crowd. I have grown up as an international athlete in front of them. I am not bothered about winning medals. But my priority is to perform well before my home crowd," she said.

Preeja, however, lamented that Olympic sports continue to be in cricket's shadow despite the athletes bringing laurels for the country.

"We win a medal in an international competition like Asian Games or Commonwealth Games or World Championship after beating sport stars from different countries. Cricket is a sport popular only in seven countries. But, unfortunately, cricket players are getting much more publicity and support," she said.

Preeja felt events like Commonwealth Games and the National Games would help create awareness about Olympic sports.

Asked about her post retirement plans, Preeja said though she cannot stay away from sports, she would not start an academy or train youngsters.

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