Vikas Gowda, a towering presence at 6’9,’’ is working towards standing out in a crowd of discus throwers from across the globe.
World No. 11 in his pet event, he is the highest-ranked Indian athlete competing at the 20th Asian athletics championship.
It is a huge responsibility for Gowda, whose preparation base is the John Godina World Throws Centre (USA).
The three-time Olympian and University of North Carolina graduate, teaches maths to supplement income when able to take time off from training. He won the discus bronze at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games and picked up two Asian athletics silvers (2005 Incheon and 2011 Kobe).
Excerpts from an e-mail interview with the mathematician-athlete:
Mathematics and discus throw, a unique combination. Do you look at yourself as a mathematician or a pro athlete?
I consider myself an athlete first. I still do a little bit of math tutoring, but I have very little time. Training takes up a lot of my time.
Have you figured out the maths in discus throw?
I do approach discus with a scientific mentality. There is a lot of trial and error. I try new things all the time and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. That’s one of the biggest advantages of training with Godina. He is one of the greatest throwers of all time. So he knows what works and what doesn’t.
Your 2012 throw of 66.28m was a career high. Can you describe how all the pieces fell into place that day? Any recent performance worth tracking, as you head for Pune?
The conditions were prefect that day. I actually consider my performance at the London Games (eighth place) much better. It’s always tougher in a closed stadium.
The most critical aspect in your routine?
Track and field is an individual sport. You can only rely on yourself. It is important that I get things technically right in practice. In competitions there’s a lot more adrenalin and speed, so I try to use that to my advantage.
Preparations for Pune
Pune will be a good test for me, to see where I am at. My main goal is the world championships (Moscow), but Pune is also very big. I’ll do everything possible to perform well. I’ve won the silver medal twice.
How has the OGQ tie-up helped you?
OGQ believed in me when very few people did. I first approached them in 2009, right after a disappointing 2008 Olympics. They were the only ones to believe in me.
I didn’t know if I would be able to compete any more. Right after their commitment to me, you can see how much better I got. I was able to train with Godina. The 2010 Commonwealth Games was make-or-break for me. I still consider that (silver in discus behind Ben Harradine of Australia) to be one of my best performances.
As a long-time resident of the U.S., from student years to a pro, thoughts on your identity out there?
Living in the U.S. has been a big advantage for me. The facilities and the coaches here are the best, but I will always represent India.