MANGALURU: No matter how trifle the matter, six months ago quarter-miler Arokia Rajiv was struggling to put his view across to peers. Not anymore. As he sauntered in, clad in jeans and T-shirt almost incognito, a cool waft of breeze swept across the Mangala Stadium here. Loudspeakers were belting out folk tunes during the opening ceremony of the Senior National Athletics Championships for the Federation Cup that begins on Friday. Rajiv was barely audible.
Life has changed and whether for good or for worse, he doesn’t know. There were expectations and dreams after his 400m bronze at Asian Games in Incheon last year. At times, life did seem surreal. Yet it was enjoyable. Not yet sought-after like the Vijenders or Mary Koms, he too had his moments — in his microcosmic world. “When I reached my village near Tiruchirappalli the welcome was overwhelming — something I will never forget,” he said with a smile across his face. “For once, I felt like a king.”
Rajiv, not from a very affluent background, is yet to receive the monetary award promised by the Tamil Nadu government. “It has been sanctioned. Hopefully, I will receive it very soon.” No fancy car as yet. “Thoda sa hi paisa mila. Lekin thik hai. I am happy. People listen to me. Earlier, when I used to ask for something, seniors would say ‘pehle result uske baad samman (results first, rewards later). But now whenever I ask for something they oblige.”
Right now, however, he is yet to peak. “I have just started my load training,” he said. “Lekin mein kuch karunga (I will do something).”
The scrapping of the Indian Grand Prix too has not been in favour of the athletes. Though this is a trial event for the Asian Championships, athletes here believe timings will not be great.
However, chief national coach Bahadur Singh felt for some like Rajiv, thrower Inderjeet Singh, 800m runner Tintu Luka, quarter-miler MR Poovamma nothing would deter them from producing their best. “They will do well and I am expecting them to win a few medals for India at the Asian Championships,” he said from Patiala. “I am hoping to reach Mangalore very soon.”
Whether or not the chief coach is here, PT Usha will not let her wards miss training. For Tintu this is an opportunity to better her timing. “It’s the first event of the season and it’s very crucial for us,” said Usha, watching her ward train in the evening. “There won’t be any competition for her but we are here to improve her timing. She will do well and for us timings matter a lot.”
If Tintu and Rajiv did not want to miss the Fed Cup, throwers Seema Antil Punia and Krishna Poonia thought it better to try their luck another day. “We are yet to start our rigorous training after her injury,” said Virender Poonia, Krishna’s husband and coach. Seema is waiting to go to the US for advance training.