For most coaches and athletes, media are a way to draw attention to their work and the sport they play. They’d use these to show people there are pockets where sports can still thrive, especially in India, which is yet to wake up to its potential.
But with no publicity from the media and virtually no spotlight on the sport, K T Unnikrishnan, main coach at the Anna Nagar Roller Skating Club, has been grooming many skaters since 2002. More than a dozen have bagged medals at national level competitions. “Interest levels in the sport have gradually gone up, not only in the city but all over India,” says the 49-year-old.
He would be right in his assessment, as his skaters won three medals at the 53rd National Roller Sports Championships held at Pune from January 15 to 20. “Menaka, a 10-year-old, won a silver and bronze, while a 16-year-old Vishal clinched a bronze at the national meet. I am proud of their performance and hopefully, my wards can continue bringing laurels for the club,” says Unnikrishnan says.
Ask him how he got into skating, and he says that he was a skater in his younger days. “I love the sport! That’s why I opened the club in 1996. I’ve seen a lot of students come and go; now there are more than 65 who practice regularly,” says the Anna Nagar resident, who admits that parents have played a big hand in his journey so far.
“Chennai has always had a popular skating scene. Parents have always been supportive of their wards and the club — most parents accompany kids to events, be it here or outside. Such support is helpful for a coach,” he opines. According to Unnikrishnan, there have been positive developments in the sport. “Nowadays, we have competitions right from the district level. This gives youngsters an opportunity to test themselves,” he adds.
- The club is known for its is one-and-a-half hour road practice session daily, to build stamina
- One of Unnikrishnan’s wards is also a Guinness World Record holder.
- Medvin Deva clinched the record for limbo-skating (skating under obstacles) for the longest distance (72 m on February 21, 2015)