Vikas gets a pat from a legendary hand

When Kenneth Powell looked up to greet Vikas Gowda at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Thursday, the hands that met formed a bridge across generations.

Coming from one of the finest Olympians from Karnataka to its latest, the significance of that message wasn’t lost on the small bunch of athletes, coaches and officials that had gathered at dusk to felicitate Vikas on his eighth-place finish in London. But it was left to Vikas’s father, Shive, to give further meaning to the tale.

“I was a young boy growing up in Mysore when I happened to see this strapping athlete,” said Shive, narrating an incident that happened half a century ago. “It was the Dasara Games and I watched this handsome man in action there. I was so impressed by his running style and personality that I even followed him to his room.

“The seeds of my sporting ambitions were sown there and the man, who represented India in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, is the person standing right here,” he said, pointing to Powell, who made it to the venue despite suffering a minor mishap on the way to the stadium.

At the funciton, Vikas and Shive were honoured by the Karnataka Athletic Association even as aspiring athletes took their chance to get autographs from the champion discus thrower, whose presence perhaps would have triggered a spark or two in the young minds just like Powell’s run in Mysore did many years ago.

Speaking to reporters later, Vikas said he was pretty satisfied with the season gone by. “Looking back, I am satisfied with the season. Perhaps, I could have done a little better at the Olympics. Now I know what to do and what to focus on in the coming four years,” he said. “The Diamond League meetings I competed this season, the World Championships last year and the Olympic Games have made a big difference, as I competed with the big names in my event more frequently and am more familiar with the top throwers.”

“I am confident in the training programme (under John Godina) and I am not looking to make any major changes. I am confident I can do better,” said the 6-foot nine-inch giant, who is on a brief visit to his home state after stopping over in New Delhi for a discussion with Sports Ministry officials. The financial aspect of his training was in focus in New Delhi and Vikas said he was confident that thanks to his consistent displays in recent times, he wouldn’t have to worry too much about that issue.

Vikas picked out the Olympic Games as the most satisfying competition of the season in which he set a national record of 66.28 metres. “I started out well but I didn’t expect others to do as well as they did. It was one of the best Olympic Games contests ever in discus throw and I am happy to have been part of it,” he said.

The 29-year-old said the World Championships in Moscow next year would be his next target. “I am looking at it year by year. The Worlds is the next priority, I will start training for it in November. But this time, I will tweak my programme a bit to make sure there is more rest in between training cycles as I was feeling tired at certain points in time. Staying healthy is the number one priority,” he said.

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