Coach Puthuvakkal Madhu has had quite a journey in the field of sailing
Over the past two years, children from the National Sailing School (NSS), Bhopal, have been making quite a splash on the waterfront. Although they train at a lake, a landlocked water body located in the capital of Madhya Pradesh, their domain has stretched to the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
If they are able to hold their own in such choppy and sometimes turbulent waters, it's thanks to their coach Puthuvakkal Madhu. More than being just a mentor, he has instilled in them the spirit of sportsmanship but more importantly a sense of fearlessness that has equipped each of them, right down to the tiniest child in the team, to take on a challenge whenever they are confronted with one.
Madhu himself won his spurs in the murky waters of Hyderabad's own Hussain Sagar. He took to the sport along with sailing stalwart Rajesh Chaudhry. While Madhu couldn't quite match Rajesh, the former shone in the sport in his own way. Starting with a silver in the 2000 Nationals at Hyderabad, he became the country's Laser Radial champion in 2003, quite a feat to accomplish in the just three years.
Over the years, his physique got more muscular, as he graduated from the Radial to the full rig. So did his achievements grow till his tally of medals touched 16, four of them gold. The Indian Army Havaldhar had come a long way from his native Kannur in Kerala, where his farmer parents could offer him little by way of exposure or competition in a fiercely competitive sport.
Apart from competitive sailing, Madhu has indulged himself in adventure too. In a Seabird class vessel, he has undertaken expeditions in the open seas, a daunting task not many would venture into. One such voyage had him negotiating the deeps of both the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in a 500 km cruise.A. JOSEPH ANTONY