Violet Peters passes away: The Asian Games gold medalist glided over her hurdles

Updated: 17 July, 2020 10:13 IST | Kersi Meher Homji | Sydney

Relatives and friends pay tribute to 1954 Asian Games gold medal-winning sprinter Peters, 86, who passed away in Melbourne recently; four-time national champion hurdler also played hockey and basketball for Maharashtra

Mumbai's Violet Peters (centre) on her way to victory in the 80m hurdles at the National Athletics Meet in Trivandrum on Feb 15, 1959. Pic/Sport & Pastime magazine
Mumbai's Violet Peters (centre) on her way to victory in the 80m hurdles at the National Athletics Meet in Trivandrum on Feb 15, 1959. Pic/Sport & Pastime magazine

India's Asian Games gold medalist Violet Peters passed away in Melbourne last week at 86.

Along with Christine Brown, Stephie D'Souza and Mary D'Souza, Violet had won the gold medal in 4x100 meter relay race at the 1954 Asian Games held in Manila, Philippines. Their timing was 49.5 seconds. This was the first gold medal won by an Indian women's team in the Asian Games.

As just 19, Violet worked as a stenographer at Airfreight, Neville House in Mumbai.

Her friend Mithi Daver (nee Banaji) from Sydney, recollects: "Violet Peters was an outstanding athlete of the 1950s and 60s. There was no one who could glide over the hurdles as swiftly as her."

Her first coach, one Mr Woodcock, affectionately called her Kuku, a name that stuck. Later, she was coached by Jal Pardiwalla and Ulal Rao.

Violet 'Kuku' Peters was selected for 18 consecutive All India Athletics championships while representing Maharashtra.

Violet Peters

"Her special event was the 80m hurdles in which she set four national records at the All India championships, winning 11 crowns," recalls Mithi.

Violet represented India at three Asian Games—at Delhi in 1951, Manila in 1954 and Tokyo in 1958. She was a member of the relay team which won the gold medal at Manila and the bronze at Tokyo.

Violet also excelled in hockey and basketball, representing her state Maharashtra in both sporting disciplines. In the 1965 hockey Nationals at Pune, she was the highest scorer, netting 12 times in three matches. Through her sporting career, Violet visited 17 countries and a staggering 85 cities across the globe.

Her nephew Dickie Boyle, fondly remembers: "For her, the joy of participation was far greater than the desire to win. Kuku migrated to Australia in her later years."
Mithi recalls how Kuku was an inspiration to most young athletes during that time. "For many of us, who were starting out in the sporting world then, Kuku was a perfect inspiration and role model. She was someone all of us always looked up to. Kuku was always full of fun, lively and the life of every team she was part of. She will be sorely missed."

May her gliding soul rest in eternal peace.

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First Published: 17 July, 2020 07:32 IST

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