BANGALORE: Two brothers, P S Siddhu (69) and G S Siddhu (79), from Punjab participated in the 33rd All India Masters Athletic Championship that kickstarted on February 23 at Kanteerava Stadium. Moreover, they competed in the same events and even won the prizes keeping it within the family, much like the Williamses in Tennis. P S Siddhu won the bronze medal in both discuss throw and hammer throw while his brother G S Siddhu won gold for shot put and sliver for hammer throw. P S Siddhu said, “We have been participating in this championship for eight times in a row now. We have also taken part in some international events in Singapore, Malaysia and Sidney.”
Organised by the Masters Athletic Federation of India, the event saw many more Siddhus participating — Over 3,500 people aged above 35 years from across 28 states in the country. The president of Masters Athletic Federation of India, Dharamveer Dhillon said, “Participants from across the country have come to take part in this championship. This is also the second time when participants from other countries have come on invitation. Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Nepal are some countries marking their presence here.”
The organisers said that this championship will be the final selection trials to select the Indian team for the forthcoming 17th Asian Masters Athletic Championship, which will be held in November at Taipei.
Sumithdalpathdo, a former javelin throw national player from Sri Lanka said, “We are 38 members, who are participating in events such as 100 metres dash, 200 metres dash, 400 meters run, discuss throw and long jump. My team mate Sardasilva has won the gold for long jump in the 35-40 years age category and has recorded a 6.29 metre jump.”
One the biggest contingents, Kerala was represented by over 250 members. A participant from Kerala, Saji Joseph, who won the gold for the 400 metres run and silver for 200 metres dash, said: “At 50 (age), to take part in such prestigious sports event feels really good and boosts confidence. The experience has been phenomenal so far. I am working with the Income Tax Department in Kerala and I got this job under the sports quota.”
Apart from such big teams, there were some small teams like Belgaum, which was represented by only 10 members. But, their enthusiasm was not lesser that any of the bigger teams. Though several members were visibly tired, thanks to their age. They refused any concessions and participated with envious vigour and enthusiasm. But, the authorities did not forget the age of the participants and provided mobile medical care, that included supplies to keep their energy infallible.