Sport in city survives due to the determination of two men
M. Tukaram is the son of a watchman. S. Naveen just joined the Police Department as a home-guard. Vishwatha Singh is the daughter of a small-time screen-printer. The fact that these three happen to be the only athletes from the State to win medals in the international fencing meets so far may well also portray a story of triumph of grit, talent and determination over adversity.
By all means, fencing is yet to get the recognition not just from authorities concerned but also from media too. But, thanks to the efforts of Dhankishan Bhandari, general secretary of Fencing Association of Andhra Pradesh, it is surviving against all odds.
It may sound strange, but Dhankishan makes it a point, along with his group of well-wishers to set aside the money they earn from the real-estate business for this sport. “We did approach many sponsors but never got any positive response,” he moans. That the Federation Cup fencing which got underway at the Fateh Maidan Indoor Stadium cost him Rs.8 lakhs also doesn't deter him that much.
The unbridled enthusiasm of Dhankishan and treasurer P. Phaniraju is what keeps the sport alive in the city which incidentally sees about 60 students train regularly at the Hanuman Vyayamshala with equipment that is mostly bought by the two officials.
“Our whole endeavour is to see this young talent achieve what we could not in our heydays for want of support,” argues Dhankishan.
And his joy knew no bounds when Andhra girl Y. Hala won a bronze in the foil individual category on Tuesday in the Fed cup.
For their part, Vishwatha, who is in her degree first year in Women's College and a medallist in the Asian championship recently, is determined to script a new chapter in the world of fencing “We are confident one day we will get the name which will make many take note of our achievements,” she says. And, both Naveen and Tukaram echo similar sentiments.
Interestingly, FAAP has recently requested the Chief Minister to give formal permission (required to get visas for foreign participants), if not funds to host the Asian Championship next January in the city.