The Anna Nagar Roller Skating Club has been the starting point for many youngsters who have made it big at the State and national levels. There is, however, room for improvement, says Liffy Thomas

P. Mahendiran drops his children for skating practice at Anna Nagar Tower Park in the morning and evening. But this resident of Kolathur is not complaining.

Within a year of starting practice at the Anna Nagar Roller Skating Club, his daughter Sowdhamini, 11, won at the district and national levels. And his son Aravindh Goutham, too has made a mark in the sport.

The Corporation maintained skating rink at Anna Nagar Tower Park is comparatively smaller (60 metre) when compared to other similar facilities in the city, but it is in no way inferior when it comes to producing champion players.

K.T. Unnikrishnan, the main coach, says nearly 15 students have won medals since 2002 at the national level by starting their training at the rink. “The enthusiasm for the sport has only increased. Over 60 students are currently practising regularly under me,” he says.

One of the highlights of the club is the one-and-a-half hour road practice done daily to build stamina.

This routine is a spectacle for those driving past the lanes of Ambattur, near Vavin signal, in the wee hours of the morning. Over a dozen enthusiasts whiz past on the roller blades.

To encourage more youngsters to take up the sport as well as to produce more talents, parents and students want more such skating rinks to come in the western parts of the city. “The rink at the Tower Park has allows one to do quad skating. For inline skating, parents have to go to Nehru Stadium,” says Mr. Mahendiran. But, the rink at the latter is almost always crowded.

M. Uma, whose daughter Samyuktha is also a national-level skating champion, says the existing facility at the Tower Park must either be expanded or the government must identify more such skating rinks.

Unnikrishnan can be reached at 9444012338, 7299304673.

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