She set the track ablaze with her sterling performances, but Ashwini Nachappa is a truly multi-faceted personality. A woman of many parts, the former Olympian has acted in Telugu movies, is actively involved in social work and is an educationist.
Her Role in the World of Athletics
The athlete hails for Kodagu in Karnataka, though she spent her school years in Bangalore. Ashwini Nachappa was India’s champion sprinter for the 100 m, 200 m and 400 m events. After winning several local level events, she graduated to the national level.
She made her mark by winning several national events, of which the most memorable one was when she outran champion P T Usha during the 1991 Open Nationals at New Delhi. This was not her only win over P T Usha. She also won the gold at an international invitation permit meet in New Delhi. The wins came within a span of two weeks and her dominance over the Payyoli Express hit the headlines.
Ashwini Nachappa also put in a strong performance on the international athletic scene. She has participated in four Asian Track and Field Championships and won one gold, three silver and a bronze medal. She was selected for the Seoul Olympics, but the experience was a sour one for her.
Kept in the reserve for the 4×400 relay, she did not get a chance to participate and the Indian team failed to get past the first round. She was unable to participate in the Barcelona Olympics as injury kept her out of the selection process. Ashwini Nachappa was honored with the Arjuna Award in 1990.
Ashwini as a Movie Star
Ashwini Nachappa set the tracks ablaze not just with her performances but also her impeccable fashion sense. She was dubbed as the glamour girl of Indian athletics by the media and perhaps it was only natural for her to try her luck in movies.
Her movie career was short but reasonably successful. She did just five movies and won two awards – the Best Newcomer award instituted by the Andhra Pradesh Government and the Tamil Cine Film Critics Award. She played the role of a sportswoman in her first movie but tried out other characters in her later movies.
Ashwini as a Social Worker and Educationist
After her successful career, Ashwini Nachappa got involved in social work and education. She is the trustee for an NGO called Parikrama. The NGO works to improve the lot of slum children as well as orphans in Bangalore. The former athlete was also keen to do something positive for Kodagu, her home town. She launched the Karuambiah Academy for Learning and Sports at Gonikoppa, a small town in Kodagu.
The school is part of her mission to instill a strong sporting culture in the rural areas of the country. After her retirement, she was also associated with the Special Olympics program for 12 years. The program offers year-long sports training to mentally challenged children.
Ashwini Nachappa may have retired from athletics, but the star has far from faded. Her active involvement in social causes and her love for life have kept her firmly in the public eye.