Age is Just a Number! At 68, Kudla’s Hilda Fernandes Bags 4 GOLD MEDALS in National Athletics

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Age is Just a Number! At 68, Kudla’s Hilda Fernandes nee D’souza Bags FOUR GOLD MEDALS in Phillip Capital 42nd National Masters Athletic Championship held from 27 April till 1 May 2022 in Chennai

Mangaluru: Old is Gold!-that’s right. We don’t believe age is any more than a mere number. As they say that “Ageing is not ‘lost youth’, but a new stage of opportunity and strength”- there is no age limit when you are still capable of doing great things in life, either in co-curricular activities, entertainment, or sports. No matter what age someone has reached, they are all still young in their minds and there is a huge need for a redefinition of how we see age. Ask a young person to describe someone in their 80’s and, whilst the words ‘experience’ and ‘wisdom’ might be used, so would ‘armchair’ and ‘television’. And here we have a Young Lady who is just 68 years young, and as of date, she has over 500 plus medals won in athletics to her credit, and she says, “I will still remain an athlete, till I am able to run, and until my dying day”?

When you look at Ms Hilda’s age, many in her age might have had surgeries, hip replacement, car accidents, deaths, divorces … you name it, and many have been through it. It’s how you react to it and how you grow from it that gives you wisdom. But sports has given the opportunity to Ms Mary Hilda Fernandes , to pass that wisdom down to “younger” generations. They are mothers and grandmothers — having survived illnesses, lost spouses and children. This athletic sport is the camaraderie of the Young ladies in their sixty plus and even though they’re at this stage in their lives, they still have so much to offer and so much to share, and “Young and Energetic” Ms Mary Hilda in her sixties plus is an perfect example, showing that you can still be young even though you are old?

Having won large number of prizes, awards and recognitions, here we have Ms Hilda adding few more feathers to her cap, by winning in the recent held Phillip Capital 42nd National Masters Athletic Championship held from 27 April till 1 May 2022 in Chennai , where she won FOUR GOLD MEDALS representing Karnataka in 100 meters Race, Long Jump, Triple Jump and 4 X 100 metres Relay . And Mangaloreans and for the fact people of Karnataka should be proud that Ms Hilda Fernandes is the ONLY Athlete in Karnataka State to win 4 Gold medals in one athletic event. Kudos to you Ms Hilda, we are proud of you!

Ms Hilda Mary Fernandes and her Family

Looking back into her personal profile and athletic achievements, Ms Mary Hilda Fernandes worked as a staff nurse at Gov’t hospital-Mudigere (8 years) , then at Dist Wenlock Hospital-Mangaluru ( 8 years), and later at Lady Goschen Hospital-Mangalore (13 years) – a total of 29 years in nursing field, and now enjoying her retired life in Kadri area in the City. In 2001, she was awarded the State Level Florence Nightingale Award 2001 for Meritorious Service as a nurse. Married to Joseph H Fernandes, she has two daughters, both married, named Smitha Joshma, who is a lecturer at Govt PU College, Halady-Kundapur; and Sapna Seema, who also was a lecturer in Biology, had moved to Abu Dhabi, and now back home in Mangaluru as a homemaker. Like every daughter wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps, both these daughters were athletes- Smitha a winner in 100 & 200 race, Long Jump and Triple Jump, represented State and National levels, was also captain of Hockey team; while Sapna a many time winner in athletics, long race, and played hockey.

Having completed her B Sc Nursing at M V Shetty Nursing College, Ms Hilda did her Diploma in Nursing at Govt Wenlock Hospital, Mangaluru, and then later on worked as staff nurse for 29 years. She entered into athletic events in 1988, and from then onwards there was no looking back, where she has participated in District, State, national and Asian athletic/sports events. She participated govt officials sports from 1992 to 2007, and in state level won medals,100 mts -400 mts, 4×100, and 4 x 400 relay; In 2000- participated in 11th Asian Master’s Athletics Championship held at Bengaluru, bagging 1 gold,1 silver,1 bronze medals; in 2001-participated in Malaysia Master’s Open Championship, and won 1 gold long jump, silver in 400 mts and bronze in 100 mts races;

In 2010,she participated in the International Master’s Open Championship held at Pune, and won 4 gold medals in 100 m, 200 m, long jump, triple jump; In 2012, participated in 17th Asian Master’s Athletic Championship held at Chinese Taipei, and won many medals in Long Jump. 100 mts, 4 X 100 and triple jump; And in 2019, she participated in the 21st Asian Master’s Athletics Championship held at Kuching,Sarawak- Malaysia, and won 3 Gold medals in 100mts, long jump, triple jump, Silver in 200 mts and Bronze in 4×100. In 2020, having taken part in Masters Athletics Federation of India National Level meet held in Manipur, she won Gold in 100 mtrs race, Gold in Triple Jump and Silver in Long Jump.

Apart from athletics, Ms Hilda likes drawing, training children in athletics, and is a good cook- and for that matter, she always thinks of me when she cooks delicious pork delicacies, and her beloved husband brings the cooked Pork bafat, Sorpothel etc to my home- Wow, that’s what you call a kind gesture. Having won the recent Gold medals, Ms Hilda speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “It’s never too late to dream a new dream, and it’s never too late to live out an old one. I think when you can you should share your experience, talents, knowledge, enthusiasm and sportsmanship for life. We need to dispel the myths of aging”.

“With full confidence and courage I entered into athletic sports, and I feel happy that I did- no regrets. I always remain bold and pray to God to give me the strength and support- and I always achieve what I dream of. God is my support, along with the love and care from my husband, children, family and friends. I am determined and a go-getter, and will take up the gauntlet in entering the future athletic events- nationally and internationally. And for that I need support and encouragement from the government and fellow citizens” added Ms Hilda.

Wow, well said by our young and energetic vintage mama Ms Hilda, it’s time that other vintage mama’s follow in her footsteps and accept the gauntlet in entering sporting events for Seniors, after all you live only once- and if you have the talents at the golden ripe age, why not step into the challenge, and make a difference. Yes, believe it or not, the present seniors are the new hipsters. The generation gap has changed. These days you can see seniors wear the same embellished sneakers, off-shoulder tops and trendy nail polish millennials do. They’re just as adventurous — and there’s no longer any difference between younger women and older. “Fresh, healthy and fit” is the new “growing old gracefully.” Aging in place is no longer an option. And Ms Hilda is a perfect example to prove it.

Even though she has pain in her knee joints due to long jumps/ triple jumps events, Ms Hilda is still determined to be an athlete, and RUN and JUMP as long as she is able to do. She spends her own money when she participates in all the national or Asian athletics events, and her trip to Malaysia for the 21st Asian Master’s Athletics Championship had cost her around Rs 80K. “It’s too sad to note that the government is not encouraging or financially supporting the athletes in India, while it only promotes and supports cricket. There are many talented athletes, young and seniors who want to participate in events abroad, but due to lack of financial support, they back out. I only hope the concerned authorities in the sports ministry also think of athletes and not just one sport-Cricket!” said Hilda.

As we all know, exercise is essential for keeping the body and mind healthy. Here we have Ms Hilda, after retiring from work as a staff nurse, now at the age of 68, she still could leave many years of active life ahead. It is never “too bloody late for me”. If Albert Gay can learn to pole vault – from scratch – at the age of 62 and go on to take part in decathlons eleven years later, what more inspiration do we need to view old age through a much more positive lens?

In her message to the youth of today, Ms Mary Hilda Fernandes says, “Remember that taking up sports is good for health. To maintain proper health and physique you should take up sporting activities, or any co-curricular activities. Look at some of the present youth, they are obese since they have no exercise nor they are into sports, rather than waste their time on electronic gadgets, chat on smart-phones, take non-stop selfies, and relax-this will ruin your physique and health. Your heart is a muscle, it needs to be worked out! Regular exercise can help improve the overall health of your entire cardiovascular system. Sports help manage weight. Sports/athletics/Exercise are great mood-boosters and have proven to be an effective method of stress relief. Athletics has kept me fit, active, healthy and free from stress. Decide right now, think of your health, and start exercising or take up sporting activities”

Kudos to Ms Mary Hilda Fernandes for showing the rest of the senior flock that age is just a number, and everyone can be a runner or a player, and be like her, if there is a way and will. After all SENIORS ROCK in the present era, unlike 50’s, 60′ and 70’s. Team Mangalorean wishes Ms Mary Hilda Fernandes all success in her future athletic events, and congratulates her on this great achievement winning Four Gold Medals. You Go Girl?

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  1. You should write an article on her sister Ruta also. She’s 72 and a athlete, having participated in many events, recently participated in Chennai and won medals and has been selected for 2023 events

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