Meet Jack of All Trades 4 Time Intl Sprint Medalist Ln Panna Prasad
Mangaluru: He can Swim; He can Dive; He can Sing; He can Debate; He can play Football and Volleyball; He is a good Yakshagana Artiste; He is a Senior Advocate, and most of all he is a Four Time International Sprint Medalist. And Veteran Athlete Mangaluru based Senior Lawyer Ln. D Padmanabha Kumar, fondly known as “Panna Prasad” is all set to participate in the 5th International Sports-” World Master Athletics Games 2017″ to be held in Auckland- New Zealand in April 2017.
In an exclusive interaction with Team Mangalorean, Ln Panna Prasad revealed his ordeal as to even being a dedicated, enthusiastic and committed sportsman having bagged four International medals in Sprint, is not very much happy with the government, MCC and local sports authorities, the way they treat and ignore athletes, like him. And that’s true- The only time you get honor, recognition, encouragement and support from the government if you happen to be a good cricketer, but for other sports, government stays far away. Well, when we say ‘sports’ in India, let’s leave cricket out of it because if anything, cricket suffers from the opposite problem: there’s too much of it. It’s great that cricket gets the support it does, but for heaven’s sake, even our national sport suffers because of this neglect. And it’s not just that the public’s attention is constantly on cricket. Most of our other athletes are neglected by the administration.
But Ln Panna Prasad acknowledges the help given by the the Govt. of Karnataka which one time gave a sum of Rs. 25,000/- from the department of The Youth and Women Empowerment, under the leadership of Minister Abhayachandra Jain; and Mangaluru City Corporation gave Rs. 50,000/- each during 2014 and 2017. But that’s not enough he says, because every time you represent India and go to a different country, the expenditures are over a lakh. And many times he has borne his own expenses when he participates in National and International sports events, which until now has totalled up over Rs 8 lakhs. He also acknowledges the support given by non-local banks like Union Bank, State Bank of India and State Bank of Mysuru- but sadly he says none of the locally born banks has come forward to help him.
For people with a willingness to achieve, the world is full of opportunities. For that matter, Ln Padmanabha Kumar who shows the world that to be an extraordinary achiever, all you need is a lot of passion and some out-of-the-box thinking. This 60-year old, who lives by the principle of simple living and high thinking, down-to-earth, soft-spoken Panna Prasad is a proud holder of four International medals in Sprint- and he is still on the move of winning more medals. Apart from his sportsmen spirit taking the active part in the field of sports, he is also partly a businessmen at the helm of managing a firm called “Panna Prasad Motors” for the last 35 years and is also a full-time advocate.
If you imagine how he handles sports and his regular profession, Panna says, he starts his day early in the morning- around 5.30 am he spends most of his time towards sports practising at Mangala Stadium while remaining of the day he concentrates on his business and lawyer profession. “If you have the stamina, dedication, enthusiasm, commitment, goal-anyone at any age can do things and achieve success. I want to be a role model to the youngsters who are a bit lazy in taking up co-curricular and also sports. I want to show them there is no age bar in taking up a sport, anyone at any age can accept the gauntlet and take up sports. If I can do it, youth can do it” said Panna Prasad.
Panna Prasad wasn’t a sportsman when he was young- after his college studies, he got into the business, which he still running it named Panna Prasad Motors. He did his PUC at SVS College-Bantwal, then completed his BA from Canara College-Mangaluru. He later did his MA and also LL.M. It was only after his marriage to Sashikala, who is also a sportswoman now, that he took up sports/athletics, where he wanted to show the youth and also his kids that what can sports do for you – from building up your physique and develop a healthy lifestyle.
He is a proud father of two girls and one boy- Tejashree Sapna, who was a champ in 100, 200 and 400 mts race at the age of 16 when she was student at Gerosa High School-Mangaluru- now she is working for a Tata firm in Bengaluru; Suprana- is doing her II B Com at SDM Mangaluru, and she has been holding distinctions in her academics since SSLC; Bharath, who is doing his I B Com at St Aloysius College-Mangaluru is also trying to be in his father’s footsteps by taking training in athletics at Mangala stadium under Manju, the brother of Poovamma, the Indian Champion Sprinter.
Entering into athletics in the year 1995, Panna Prasad has never looked back, instead, has been winning medals in many of the sports meets that he has participated. In 2005, he got his first medal when he took part in Lawyers Sports Meet organized by Mangaluru Bar Association. In the Vishwa Karma Sangha Sports Meet, in the below 50 years category he ran with youngsters and won the bronze medal. In the 2012 Master’s National Athletic Meet held at Mangala Stadium-Mangaluru, he won gold in 100, and 200 mts race. His first International Sports meet was the 31st Ritzbury Master Athletics Championship in the year 2014-15 was held at Mahind Raja Paksha International Stadium Dayagama Sri Lanka, in which he won Gold medal in 100, 200 mts and Silver in 400 meter sprint event respectively, thus making him to become the sprint champion 2014-15 at the age group 55+.
Pannaprasad again participated in 2nd International Meet-32nd Ritzbury Master Athletics Championship 2015-16 held at the same stadium in Sri Lanka, in which he bagged gold 100, 200, and Silver in 400 meter sprint event respectively, once again making him the sprint champion 2015-16 at the age group 55+. The third International Meet was the 36th Master Athletics Champion 2016, which took place in Singapore in which he participated in 100, 200 and 400 mts sprint, and bagged bronze medal in 200 mtr and gold medal in 4×100 mts . This achievement made him the first Indian Athlete to get a Medial in Singapore in 35 years and he was the first Indian Athlete to run 400 meters in the age group of 55+.
The fourth International Meet was the 19th Asian Master Athletics championship held at Singapore Olympic National Stadium, where Kumar took part in the 100, 200, 400, long jump & 4×400 Relay, in which India got all together 216 medals, and bagged the 2016 championship by defeating China and Japan. Panna Prasad’s efforts in this meet was well recognized by the entire Indian team because he was the one who gave good numbers for the 4×400 Relay Team, which paved way for India to win the Championship. And since he had achieved big success in winning medals representing India for the last 5 years at four International Sports Meet participating in 100, 200 & 400 Meter Sprint Events, he was eligible to participate the 5th International Sports World Meet to held at Auckland-New Zealand in April 2017.
As for recognition that he received so far, honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka honoured him in front of Vidhana Soudha Bangalore; and when the Junior Olympics took place at Mangala Stadium for the first time in Karnataka organized by the “Kreeda Bharathi and the Physical Directors Association, where he got the privilege to walk in the March Fast conducted by him, he received the prestigious honor in front of the dignitaries of the state Athletics. He has also been honored/felicitated by various other organizations, including Lions Club.
Panna Prasad went on further saying, ” The problem with Indian people is that once they get married they lose all the interest in co-curricular activities and sports. And once they have kids they get more depressed and want to do nothing. Married or not married has nothing to do with your sports talents and interest- you need to continue it without any excuses. In foreign countries I have seen there are seniors, in age between 80-100 still active in the sprint, no family life bothers them in their hobby of sports. Another drawback in India is that there is the lack of encouragement and support towards athletes/sprinters, other than cricket. No financial help from the government and sports authorities to those who want to excel in sports, and for that matter, no help from local administration either. Even at the age of 60, I can challenge any youth when it comes to a sprint, and until now no youth has beaten me in 100 mts sprint. There is no age bar if you have dedication, interest, commitment anyone can do it. And if I get an opportunity, I am ready to participate in the Olympics-Winning is not important, but taking part is what is important”.
When asked what would be his message to the readers of Mangalorean.com, especially youth, he said, “There are lots of opportunities available, and people especially the youth should avail those opportunities. The government of India has now started encouraging sportsmen, so accept all the opportunities that are available. Better late than never, we Indians should be role models to the athletes of other nations- and we can do it if we make up our minds. I know that MCC had received Rs 25 lakhs long ago to be utilized for athletes who take part in national and international sports events- the officials should start encouraging the athletes and start financing them in their sporting activities. Let’s not be lazy, instead be active and unleash the hidden sports talents in you.”
Team Mangalorean wishes Ln Padmanabha Kumar all success in his future sprint challenges. Best of luck and success galore!