From kabaddi to track, Shetty's simple story

Far removed from the world of brash, boastful sprinters, Anand Shetty ran in a lane marked by sheer simplicity.

A National champion nine times over in the 100 and 200M, Shetty never let success overtake him. A strong competitor, it was his simplicity that endeared him to many in and outside the track and field arena.

Speed was the essence of Shetty’s life and it defined his career but when it came to driving, he wasn’t the one to let go the reins; so the news of his mishap came as a surprise to many.

“Very unfortunate and very sad,” said Ashwini Nachappa. “He was always a careful driver. I don’t know what really happened there,” added Ashwini, referring to the mishap that claimed the sprinter’s life.

“He was a very nice person and we had a long association as our careers ran parallel to each other’s. We were both National champions together in Mangalore in 1987 – it was for the first time that both the sprint champs were from Karnataka. More than the fact that he was a good athlete I remember him as a genuinely good person,” said Ashwini.
Hailing from Maani, near Puthur in Dakshina Kannada district, Shetty did his schooling in Dharmasthala where he made his name as a kabaddi player. “N Vinaya Hegde, President of NITTE education trust saw Anand Shetty playing kabaddi and got him a job in his company Lamina Suspensions. Shetty was 17 then. Later Hegde himself spotted the athlete in Shetty,” Dakshina Kannada District Athletics Association Secretary Arun V Rao said.

Shetty didn’t have any formal training as an athlete in his early days. “No training, only kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi,” he had remarked once with his trademark smile when asked about his training methods.

The strength and agility from that sport, however, stood him in good stead as he stormed the junior athletics scene and then made his mark in the senior ranks, competing in the New Delhi Asian Games in 1982.

“He was a very good competitor,” said Sunil Abraham, another former sprinting champ and Shetty’s team-mate in Telco, where he joined after leaving Laminas. “My career was nearing its end when Shetty made his entry in 1982. Coming from a rural background with very little coaching, he quickly made his mark,” added Abraham, who felt Shetty was a better 200M runner.

Supporting that statement is the gold he won in the South Asian Games in Kolkata in 1987, timing 21.66 seconds. “He was good but he could have done even better,” felt another international Reeth Abraham. The transition may not have taken place but Shetty, right though, remained passionate about his sport.

After taking voluntary retirement from Telco, he donned the role of a coach, guiding youngsters at the Bangalore Sports Club along with Uday K Prabhu and Babu Shetty.  “Athletics was his life,” said Uday. “I can’t believe he is no longer with us.”

As a coach Shetty had the pleasure of watching his ward Clifford Joshua break his State record in the 200M. “He coached me from 1999 to 2004, the period in which I performed the best in my career. As he was a sprinter, his coaching style very much suited me,” Joshua, said.  A Rajyotsava awardee, Shetty moved to Mangalore after taking up the Infosys job before fate struck the cruellest of blows on Saturday.

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