My life started with struggle: My earliest memories are those of jumping over fences as a child. But attempting the extraordinary was, perhaps, a natural offshoot of what was otherwise an ordinary childhood. Born to EPM Paithel and TV Lekshmi at Koothadi in Kozhikode on June 27, 1964, I grew up in Payyoli as the second of six children. My father ran a small cloth store and we were never financially secure. To top it all, one disease or the other kept plaguing my health.I was first noticed at school: One day, while I was in class IV, our drill master, Mr Balakrishnan, asked me to run with a student of class VII who was the school champion.I had no experience of running in a race. I just ran as fast as I could and came in first! I just couldnt believe that I had outrun the school champion. And neither could onlookers.I was noticed. My parents knew nothing about athletics: Forget about sports as a profession, even participating in races was not common among girls in those days.