Vikas calls time on career

Vikas calls time on career

Vikas Gowda with the discus gold he won at the 2014 Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. PTI File Photo

Discus thrower Vikas Gowda, one of India’s most celebrated athletes and an outstanding ambassador for the sport in the country, announced his retirement from track and field on Tuesday.

A two-time Asian champion, Vikas’ best career moment, perhaps, came at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where he became only the second Indian male athlete ever to win a gold medal.

“After a lot of thinking and consulting I have decided to retire from athletics. I do not want to punish my body anymore and I want to focus on the next phase of my life,” Vikas, who is based in the United States, wrote in an email to the Athletics Federation of India (AFI).

Vikas, who finished eighth with a throw of 65.20m at the 2012 London Olympics, thanked the AFI for all its support and said he will miss representing India in athletics. “It was an honour and privilege to represent India and I will forever miss it,” he wrote.

Vikas’ decision comes just two months ahead of the Asian Games in Jakarta. He had earlier missed the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast too, struggling to find form. The AFI had insisted that he should come down to India to prove his form at the Inter-State championships next month but Vikas felt he wasn’t ready for it.

The Asian Championships in Bhubaneswar last year, as such, became his final competition in Indian colours, as he won the bronze medal with a 60.81m throw.

The son of former Indian athlete and coach Shive Gowda, Vikas was born in Mysore in 1983. With the family moving to the United States, the environment was right for the young Vikas to enter the track and field arena. With guidance from his father, he steadily progressed to the international level with a debut appearance at the World Junior Championships in Jamaica in 2002, competing in shot put and discus throw.

From then on, the 6-foot 9-inch tall Vikas was a constant and towering presence on the Indian scene, competing in four Olympic Games and with a best of eighth place at London in 2012. In the same year, he set the national record of 66.28m, which stands even now. In the World Championships, his best performance came at Daegu (2011) and Moscow (2013), finishing seventh both times. Though he could not strike a gold at the Asian Games – his best being a silver in 2014 at Incheon -- Vikas proved his prowess at the continental level with two gold medals in the Asian Championships, at Pune in 2013 and in Wuhan two years later.

The AFI President Adille Sumariwalla, commended Vikas on his excellent career. “Vikas had a great career as an athlete and his achievements speak about his dedication and hard-work over the years. He has inspired a lot of athletes and I am sure he will continue to do that in his next phase of career. I wish him the best for future and thank him for serving Indian athletics as an athlete,” he said.