Mumbai

Blazing a trail for young athletes

Leading the way: Coach V. Balagovind flanked by his students Firoz Ustad (left) and Chirag Patel, co-founders of Trackblazers Sports Academy.

Leading the way: Coach V. Balagovind flanked by his students Firoz Ustad (left) and Chirag Patel, co-founders of Trackblazers Sports Academy.  

Athletics competition under floodlights kicks off in Kandivali

Tracknights, a State-level athletics competition that kicked off at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Kandivali on Saturday, has given age-group athletics in the suburbs a shot in the arm.

For the first time, an athletics meet is being staged under floodlights on a 400-metre synthetic track. Prize money will be offered to the first three finishers along with medals and certificates. Electronic equipment will be used to display timing and measure distances. The two-day event is scheduled to end by 10 p.m. on Sunday.

The brains behind the event are Chirag Patel and Firoz Ustad, co-founders of the Trackblazers Sports Academy. Mr. Patel, a high jumper, and Mr. Ustad, a sprinter, have been coached by noted coach V. Balagovind, whose dream is to give back to the sport.

Mr. Patel said, “We wondered how it would feel to participate in a stadium under floodlights, running or hurdling on a synthetic track. It did not happen in our time. So this is an attempt to give that experience to the juniors.” Mr. Balagovind, a familiar face in athletic circles, who is now based in Nashik, said, “Young athletes giving back to the sport needs to be encouraged.”

All round support

Mumbai Suburban District Athletics Association (MSDAA), the controlling body for the sport in the suburbs, has backed Tracknights by booking the SAI stadium at discounted rates and arranging qualified race officials to conduct the competition.

MSDAA secretary Arthur Fernandes said, “Trackblazers will be arranging the floodlights, a major portion of the cost when conducting a State-level competition.” Entries for the event have come from Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Satara, Latur, Nashik, Nagpur and Kolhapur.

Parents attracted to track and field have closed their ranks behind the duo. “Mr. Patel and Mr. Ustad train our children. When they do something positive for a wider group of kids, support from us is natural,” said a parent. Mr. Balagovind said there are cases of parents resuming their link with athletics after accompanying kids to coaching. The competition is for children between eight and 18 years. Special events like the 60-metre hurdles will assess the athletic ability of children.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 4:01:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/blazing-a-trail-for-young-athletes/article30655338.ece

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