The 86-year-old ex-Army hawaldar is an athlete par excellence who has bagged over 60 medals and as many certificates in many national and state-level meets
His white beard, wrinkled-face and worn-out safari suit betray the bundle of energy that he is. As you enter the Secunderabad Cantonment Board office, Thakur Bhavani Singh greets you with a shrill whistle before guiding you to your parking slot.
He’s not an SCB employee; in fact, he never was. The 86-year-old ex-Army hawaldar is an athlete par excellence who has bagged over 60 medals and as many certificates in many national and state-level meets.
Last year, Mr. Singh won the first prize in javelin throw in the 80-plus years category at the 33 National Masters Athletic Championships held in Bangalore.
His throw measured 14.11 metres. In the previous edition of the event at Guntur, he won the 5-km walk in his category.
Ever since he joined the AOC Centre, Trimulgherry in 1960, Mr. Singh developed a liking for sports, particularly boxing.
“It was my officer Major K.K. Naidu, who noticed my talent and made me participate in different events, including the 1965 Army Sports Championship in Pakistan where I won a gold medal. There was no looking back after that,” says Mr. Singh.
He had even received a cash award of Rs.500 from then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, apart from an appreciation letter. For years, and defying age, he has been participating in different veteran championships across the country and winning medals in shot put, javelin throw, discuss throw or marathon race.
However, with a monthly pension of Rs.3,500, he finds it difficult to make both ends meet. After retirement in 1975, he has been manning the parking lot at the SCB office, earning whatever little he can.
“I accept whatever the visitors give, earning about Rs.100 a day. I have to take care of my wife too, a retired employee of the Military Hospital, Trimulgherry,” he sighs.
Yet, none of these can deter him from competing in sports meets. He is already gearing up to participate in the next National Athletic Championships.