METRO PLUS

A CHAMPION coach

V.R. Beedu, seen here putting his wards through the paces, feels that individuals, corporates, and the Government have a moral obligation in supporting sport. -- Photos: Sampath Kumar G.P.

V.R. Beedu, seen here putting his wards through the paces, feels that individuals, corporates, and the Government have a moral obligation in supporting sport. -- Photos: Sampath Kumar G.P.  

VISHWANATH RAO Beedu is an enigma in the world of athletics. There is none like him in Karnataka. "Beedu", to his friends, the genial coach is a "mobile athletic manual" — the man keeps himself updated about happenings world-wide at the tip of his fingers. Well-travelled, his passion for the sport and his coaching assignments take him across the length and breadth of the country. Beedu is quick to spot a talent, and even quicker (with the acceptance of the athlete concerned) in making a "champion".

His latest product, Thoshna Dayalu, will vouch for it: "I was doing around 4.00 metres in long jump until I came to Beedu Sir about two-and-a-half months ago. Now, I am touching 4.80 metres and the leap in distance has made me the State champion in triathlon for the girls' under-14 (group C)."

A sprinter, and a long and triple jumper in his days, turning up for Madras University and State, the Mangalore-born Beedu knew what lay ahead of him. His achievements as an athlete notwithstanding, Beedu had it in him to mould and nurture talents, a path designed and desired by his brothers, all of whom were involved in sports. And this passion soon had him enrolling at NIS in 1970, among the ninth batch to learn the intricacies of coaching. If that was not enough, the dapper Beedu went onto complete his B.P. Ed from Madurai University in the following year, an added incentive to pursue his dream. And as luck would have it, it was his "Guru", C.M. Muthaiah, whom Beedu assisted after his stint at NIS, who paved his way for specialised coaching (for jumps) in Teheran in 1975. This was the first step towards Beedu's two-year Masters in Sports in Germany, aided by the Indo-German Sports Scholarship from the Government. "The two years of learning to coach was an eye-opener. It provided me with a broad-base to scout for and the in-depth analysis that was inculcated there has stood me in good stead till this day," reminisces Beedu.

"Technically, at NIS, and in Germany, the training is the same. But then, the system and the procedure is different and vastly superior," feels Beedu, who considers Germany as his second home.

For a man who considers sport as a reflection of the social and economic situation of a country, Beedu feels individuals, institutions, corporates, and above all, the Government has a moral obligation in supporting sport. "Otherwise, we will end up having State meets in places such as Belgaum, where not only the "ground" conditions were abysmal, but the athletes were left queuing up for basic needs despite opting to stay in their own accommodation."

A CHAMPION coach

Beedu, in his stay as NIS coach, at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Southern Centre (Kengeri), and also at the Sports Hostel (in Bangalore), both as instructor/teaching fraternity and coach, did have the cream of Indian athletes under his wings. But it was the combined events and the pentathletes and heptathletes that Beedu took particular charge off. "In Germany, there is prominence for athletes in multiple events, and separate Nationals are conducted in triathlon and pentathlon, as also decathlon for men." It is this affinity towards combined events that saw Beedu churning out national and international stars in the pentathlon and heptathlon, and more recently, triathlon.

Athletes such as Angle Mary, K.K. Geetha, H.G. Apsara, Reeth Devaiah (Nee Abraham), Sylvania Pais, M.K. Asha, and G.G. Pramila all have had their share of training and guidance from coach Beedu. Arjun Devaiah, Shiva Gowda, and Somashekar, as also long jumper, Praveen Fernandes all talk with awe and respect about their moments with Beedu even to this day. Beedu has been the national coach to Dhaka in 1985 and the Asian Track & Field ('89), besides the Colombo SAF Games in 1991.

Besides athletes, Beedu has been consultant (conditioning) coach to the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy and also Vijaya Bank, with sportspersons ranging from basketball to kabaddi coming across for tips and conditioning. The likes of Deepankar Bhattacharya, Gopi Chand, Aparna Popat, and Chetan Baboor have all undergone physical conditioning under Beedu.

If there was a lull in between for almost a year-and-a-half, after Shilpa Sequeira's (an ace long and triple jumper) from the State's athletic scene, it was not due to his own making — Beedu the task master did find it tough to get the right mix in an athlete. But even then the dedication in the man was there for all to see, for he spends three hours each morning and evening with the crop of young ones' with dreams in their eyes and hopes in their heart.

Today, with the likes of Natasha Sagar in pentathlon, Pallavi Sukumar, and Thoshna Dayalu in triathlon (all of them State champions in their respective groups), Beedu can smile with a sense of contentment. But then, the 56-year-old is eyeing the Commonwealth Games to be held in India in 2010. "These under-14's and 15's will be in the right age by then... And possibly at their peak.... And, as host, if India can field two or three athletes in each event, there is no reason why this lot cannot find a berth," asserts Beedu.

With a man like Beedu to look forward to, dreams of donning Indian colours at the Commonwealth and Olympics could become a reality for the Sagars, Sukumars and Dayalus and a host of others.

AVINASH NAIR

Recommended for you