Age does not wither ‘Strongman of India’

Power play: K.C. Sreenivasan attempting a dead lift during a practice session at the Powerlifting Academy at Kadavanthra in the city.

Power play: K.C. Sreenivasan attempting a dead lift during a practice session at the Powerlifting Academy at Kadavanthra in the city.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

69-year-old powerlifter from city dreams of clinching international title

K.C. Sreenivasan, a 69-year-old powerlifting champion from the city, has a dream — to win a gold medal for India in an international championship.

He has been selected to represent India in the Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship to be held in Kazakhstan this December. “I have qualified five times for the Asian championships. But most of the competitions are held abroad and I can’t afford to go,” he says. As he attempts a bench press in the Ernakulam Gymnasium, eyeing a gold medal in Kazakhstan, the senior powerlifting champion becomes hopeful about the universe conspiring for him to lift the burden of meeting his expenses abroad.

Sreenivasan is the ‘Strongman of India’ in the bench press Masters Three category in which he contests. He has participated in over 15 national powerlifting championships across India and has brought home over 25 medals. He won three gold medals for India by lifting 287 kg — in squat, bench press, and deadlift — in the Classic Asian Championship held in Alappuzha in 2017.

Lack of support

“I could participate in the championship because it was in Alappuzha. Even then, I had to spend over ₹70,000 from my pocket. There was no support from the Sports Council or the government. There were 20 participants from different countries in the 59-kg category,” he says, looking at the trophies and medals that garland the visitor’s room in his house in the city.

For Sreenivasan, the way ahead is strewn with difficulties. Though he started lifting weights in 2011, he has not bought enough powerlifting gear because of financial difficulties.

Starting out as a chef in a canteen of a vernacular newspaper, he retired as a desk attender. But, he never gave up his passion for bodybuilding which he started at the age of 19.

“The beauty of the body is something rare. Once you get it, you will go to any extent not to lose it. It’s a youngster’s dream and I am able to maintain it even at this age,” says the sexagenarian.

An avid votary of natural food, he rues the trend of youths turning to dietary supplements such as protein powders to increase their muscle mass. He believes that they do more harm than good and adds that only hard work will help the youth in the long run.

Before entering powerlifting, Sreenivasan prepared himself for three years by doing select workouts and laid the foundation to lift weights. Libas Sadhique, powerlifter and mother of two, who contests in the women’s senior category, says even youngsters would not practise like him. “He is really passionate about it, and sometimes guides us too,” she says.

Sreenivasan is in raptures when he shows a black-and-white photograph of his ‘Christmas tree back’ which he developed at the age of 36 as a bodybuilder. “You can build a six-pack in six months. But it requires at least two years of hard work to achieve this,” he says with a twinkle in his eyes.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 5:41:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/age-does-not-wither-strongman-of-india/article29858385.ece

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