KAAA fetes its champions

A proud moment for coaches as well as past and present athletes

KAAA fetes its champions

 Pride was the dominant feeling as Karnataka Amateur Athletics Association (KAAA) honoured athletes and coaches for their achievements and contributions here on Tuesday.

Athletes of the current generation rubbed shoulders with stars of the past as well as coaches who gave their everything in shaping their careers at the State Youth Centre and the joy of finding recognition from their parent body was apparent in their eyes.

 “It is a good gesture from the association and I am happy to be a part of it. The association should have taken the effort long back but nevertheless it is a great feeling,” said former international sprinter Kenneth Powell — Karnataka’s first Arjuna awardee — as veteran coach V R Beedu, who was also felicitated on the occasion, nodded in agreement.

The present generation too was delighted to be part of the inaugural awards function. “I am really happy with the KAAA for organising this event,” said Meghana Shetty, who represented the country at the Asian Junior meet last year. “I aim to achieve more in the upcoming events,” said the hurdler.

Meghana was among the clutch of current athletes to be honoured. Vikas Gowda, who headed the list, was absent while sprinter H M Jyothi too failed to turn up. Asian Games relay gold medallist M R Poovamma, hurdler Ashwini Akkunji, high jumper Sahana Kumari, quartermiler G K Vijayakumari and high jumper S Harshith were also honoured with cash prizes, a memento, shawl and Mysore peta.

Ashwini also echoed feelings of pride and said that her next target includes performing well in the Asian Championship and World Championship. 

“I feel great to have received this award and feel more responsible for my upcoming competitions. I look forward to better my personal best and continue to remain fit,” she said.  

Minister for Youth Empowerment and Sports, K Abhaychandra Jain, honoured the current athletes while Karnataka Olympic Association President K Govindaraj,  and KAAA President G Parameshwara felicitated the life-time achievers at the function.

Getting praise

“I congratulate all the athletes for their success so far and urge them to continue to bring laurels to the State and nation. With the government and KAAA promising support, I expect more medals in the upcoming events from them,” said Jain who also highlighted developments on the infrastructure front, including a synthetic track in Tumkur and a cycling velodrome in Bijapur.

“This is a special moment for us. The government has the capacity to announce rewards for achievers but it takes a lot of effort for an association to come up with an event such as this,” said Parameshwara.

Parameshwara also highlighted the pathetic state of infrastructure in the Sree Kanteerava Stadium and urged the government to allot money annually to improve the conditions. “Toilets, tracks, gym and rooms in the stadium are in poor condition and it is tough for us to organise National events in the future if this situation prevails,”he said. 

Cash prizes for the achievers also dominated the speeches, with Parameshwara and Govindaraj supporting the move to increase the amount for medal winners.

Among the life-time achievement award winners were Dronacharya winner N Lingappa, coach C Arivanantham, former marathon ace D Y Biradar and senior coach Purushotham Rai. 

 Marjorie Suares, who represented the country at the first Asian Games in 1951, Angel Mary Joseph and C M Muthaiah could not attend the function.

Powell said health issues forced Suares to skip the programme. “She is suffering from severe leg pain after a serious fall about eight months ago. We tried persuading her but she reasoned that it would not be possible for her to sit for long duration.”

KAAA Vice-Presidents Ashwini Nachappa and Uday K Prabhu also spoke on the occasion.

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