Day-long athletics meet a hit with youngsters

Abhinav Mugunthan is like any other 10 year old. He loves going to school and playing with his friends. But on Saturday, the 21st of May, he was more than just a young boy. For the first time, he was an athlete competing against kids three years older than him. He won the first place in the Under-13 shot put event with a distance of 5.15 metres.

Taking the high road. Pic: Smit Zaveri.

Like Abhinav, there were many other first timers who proved that experience wasn’t everything. Determination and hard work was. 12-year-old, Nikitha M V from Sapphire High School says, "This is the first time I took part in long jump and high jump. I used to play in school before. It’s a lot of fun and its better than running." Even though she only started training a week back, she won the third place in the Under-13 high jump event and is planning to pursue a career in sports in the future.

May 21st marked the 16th World Athletic Day Meet in Bangalore. The meet was organised by Fusion Athletica, an organisation that conducts and promotes sporting activities, in association with the Karnataka Athletics Association at the Kanteerva stadium. The events, which began at 9 AM, received massive response, not only from school students of Bangalore, but also from Mysore and Shimoga.

The opening ceremony took place at 11 AM and was inaugurated by the Olympic gold medallist and Arjuna Awardee, Dr M P Ganesh. The other guests of honour included Olympian and Commonwealth bronze medallist Ranjeeth Maheshwari, KAA secretary Satyanarayan and H Nagaraj, Chairman of SLV Housing Developing Corporation, the main sponsors of the event. After the welcome address by the Fusion Athletica secretary, Pramila Aiyappa, and the inaugural speech by the chief guest, balloons and fire crackers marked the meet open.

Kids ranging from the ages of 8 to 17 attended this meet for races, high jump, long jump, shot put and discus throw. Each participant could take part in two events in their age group.

All set to blast off. Pic: Smit Zaveri.

"We are looking out for young, budding athletes whom we can train and promote. We, as a group of ex-athletes know the challenges and difficulties that lie in athletics. A few years ago India was dominating the athletics platform but today we are nowhere. We want to bring back fame, money and public support to this sport." voices Narsimha Murthy, the joint secretary of Fusion Athletica.

Another young achiever who was a favourite among the crowd was  P P Harshini from Baldwin Girls High School who was the winner of the under-13 high jump category. "I have been training in high jump for 1 year with the Indo-German Sports Club. I also took part in the 800 metres running race and won the 2nd place."

But even though the participants and their parents were happy with the meet, the organisers were left a little disappointed. Narsimha says he expected the turnout to be close to 800, but they received only around 600 registrations. "Even though the fee is minimal, people don’t come for athletic events. Unlike cricket, we don’t get monetary support. Even the members of KAA weren’t as supportive as we had hoped. Our only hope is that athletics gets more encouragement with the help of all the media."

The event ended at a high note with the prize distribution ceremony. The winners left with a smile on their face and the ones who didn’t win hope to do better next year.

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