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Updated: February 2, 2014 16:44 IST

Gold rush

    J. VIGNESH
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Praneetha Pradeep
The Hindu
Praneetha Pradeep

Praneetha Pradeep is on a victory track. The 17-year-old has many plans up her sleeve

Praneetha Pradeep is not your normal 17-year-old. This pre-University student is one of Karnataka's most promising athletes, and is already a seasoned athlete with junior state records across multiple events.

She took to athletics at the age of ten, when her coach at Bethany School, Manjappa, observed that she outclassed her peers in the 100 metres, 200 metres and long-jump events.

“He advised me to start training seriously,” Praneetha says. The youngster then came under the tutelage of Uday Prabhu, a coach at the Bangalore Sports Club (BSC). The result - she won a gold medal in the under-14 Nationals at Jharkhand (2007).

When Prabhu decided to leave the BSC, citing personal reasons, Praneetha began training under veteran coach Vishwanath Rao Beedu of the Indo-German Athletics Club. “I am hugely indebted to Beedu sir for his dedication and encouragement,” she says.

Some of her major achievements with the Indo-German Athletics Club include a 12-second run to win the 100 metres event in the South Zone junior athletic championship last year, and a long-jump gold medal in the State Junior Championship held at Bangalore. Praneetha's overall tally of 23 national-level medals speaks volumes about her drive to win.

She trains for three hours every day, under the watchful eyes of her coach. When asked who her role model is, she jokes: “Certainly not Usain Bolt”, and then finally settles on American Brittney Reese, the five-time long-jump world champion.

The modest athlete says she does not usually set long-term goals, preferring instead to focus on the next event at hand. “My present goal is to do well in the upcoming selection camp for the Asian Junior Championship, which is scheduled for May 2014.” After a bit of prodding, she adds that her “ultimate aim is to win medals for India in international events.”

The finish line is quite a distance away, but Praneetha has made the perfect start off the blocks.

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