49th National Roller Skating Championships returns to the State after two decades

The Channammanakere Achhukattu skating rink is ordinarily not an easy place to find. It is hemmed in by a park and a playground on two sides, a giant drain cuts off access from the third, while on the fourth, the (most preferred) entrance is tucked behind a BBMP health centre.

But this week, there should be little difficulty locating it. Close to 800 skaters from across the country have descended on the venue for the 49th National Roller Skating Championships; it is unlikely the neighbourhood has witnessed such activity previously. The competition will be in progress till Saturday, with 100 gold medals on offer in various disciplines.

A long hiatus

The national championships have not been held in Karnataka for over two decades and the current edition too was originally allotted to Nagpur. “We were desperate to host something big here,” says S. Indudhar, Secretary of the Force One Skating Academy that operates the rink. “They looked at our venue and our enthusiasm for conducting the Nationals and they said yes without any hesitation.”

For Mr. Indudhar and those who worked long to establish the rink, the event is a culmination of all their painstaking effort. The project was conceived, he reveals, because he and other interested parents were tired of driving their children to Mysore every weekend for practice.

“The rink in Mysore was much better than what existed here. Once our kids started winning medals and doing seriously well, we wondered why we couldn't have a world-class facility in Bangalore.”

The project would not have taken off without strong political will, Mr. Indudhar admits.

M. Venkatesh, Councillor from the Vidyapeetha ward and a relative, pushed the case as did Basavanagudi MLA Ravi Subramanya. Construction of the 200m banked track began in October 2009 and was completed by the BBMP, at a cost of about Rs. 40 lakh, in nearly a year and a half. “Today, I'm extremely happy,” says Mr. Indudhar. “All of us parents have done it with a lot of dedication. We were confident from the beginning.”

Many hopefuls

The Force One Skating Academy today has close to 250 skaters on its rolls, with several of them hopeful of medals in what will be happily familiar environs. The track itself has received widespread praise, with some going so far as to call it India's best. “I wouldn't say it's a lot different from any other venues that have hosted the Nationals but the track is definitely much smoother,” said Ashok Das, a competitor from Uttar Pradesh.

Karnataka has finished overall champion for the last six editions, seeing off competition from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. “I'm sure we will win this time too,” says Mr. Indudhar. “After all this is our home.”