‘Nowadays, children don’t train hard and want everything instantly’
People can have the best facilities and yet to make no mark unless they put in the tough training required to excel in athletics, said Vandana Rao, former international athlete and winner of the Arjuna Award in 1987 and the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award in 1984.
“Nowadays, children lack that. They don't train hard and want everything instantly,” she told The Hindu from Mumbai, where she now lives.
Speaking about the change in the sports scenario in Dakshina Kannada from the time when she practised in the Mangala Stadium and St. Aloysius grounds two decades ago, she said the people of Dakshina Kannada today are more interested in sports, the Mangala stadium is getting a synthetic track and the city has good coaches, so athletes have a greater chance of success.
“It was not like that for me,” said Ms. Rao, who was born and brought up in Mangalore (she studied in St.Mary's Girls School and Besant Women's College).
Ms. Rao represented Karnataka throughout her athletics career. A contemporary of P.T. Usha and Reeth Abraham, her connection with the world of sports today was through Clean Sports India, a movement by athletes who work towards the practice of sports without drugs.
Shridhar Alva, a Mangalorean who represented Karnataka for 11 years and held a national record in long jump from 1965 to 1984, said that children today were pampered by parents and have all access to facilities. But excelling in athletics requires total commitment. “Children must be encouraged at the correct time,” he said.
He recalled how many decades ago when he lived in rural Dakshina Kannada, he had asked a carpenter to build a stand for practising high jump. The 70-year-old, who participated in several events (javelin, high jumps, long jumps), said that he did not even attempt to claim a pension announced for sportspersons.
He said: “I didn't even apply because I know I won't get it.”
Clifford Joshua, who participated in the 2002 Asian Games and set a record in athletics in Karnataka for 100 m (which has since then been equalled) and in 200 m (which is unbroken still), said while Mangalore had good coaches now, facilities were “not that good”. He trained in Bangalore and said that a great improvement would be the laying of the synthetic track in Mangala Stadium.