Model Code of Conduct Impact! Natl Masters Athletics Meet Kicks Off in Somber Mood

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Model Code of Conduct Impact! Natl Masters Athletics Meet Kicks Off in Somber Mood

Election Model Code of Conduct Impact! 38th National Masters Athletics Championship Kicks Off in Somber Mood at Mangala Stadium, today, Thursday, 12 April 2018, where nearly 1600 athletes from 18 Indian States and 46 visiting athletes from Sri Lanka took part.

Mangaluru: With Motto ‘Health Through Sports’, the 38th National Masters Athletic Championship will be held at Mangala Stadium in the City from 12-15 April, 2018 organized by Dakshina Kannada Masters Athletic Association in association with Karnataka Masters Athletic Association, and today morning, 12 April was the inauguration- but it was carried out very simple, with no extravaganza and extra spending. Thanks to the Election Model Code of Conduct? Even the inaugural procession of all the athletes in march past, earlier scheduled from Shree Gokaranatheshwara Temple-Kudroli to Mangala Stadium was cancelled-only a small route of March Past inside was carried this morning.

Nearly 1600 athletes converged at Mangala Stadium for this championship, with 335 athletes from Karnataka, 320 from Maharashtra, 145 from Tamil Nadu, 140 from Kerala, 105 from Andhra Pradesh, 87 from Gujarath, 70 from Chandigarh, among many others. Invitee country Sri Lanka confirmed with 46 athletes participating in various field and track events. Both Men and Women in the age group of 30 plus to 85 plus were qualified to compete in this championship- and the fun part was that there were equal number of seniors matching young athletes. This championship was an unique opportunity particularly for the residents of Mangaluru City to watch the master athletes in action. Children and younger generation had availed this opportunity to see and learn from their very senior athletes how to be competitive on the field.

Due to certain restrictions due to the Election Model Code, no politicians were invited for the inauguration nor the valedictory of this event, but even DC Sasikanth Senthil, Police Commissioner TR Suresh, Manjunath Bhandary- DKKDA President who were suppose to grace the inaugural ceremony never showed up. How nice? What makes the situation ironic is that India Masters Athletics, the national body that governs masters’-level athletics, had initially requested Gujarat to host the event. With Gujarat backing out from doing so in view of assembly elections there, IMA urged Karnataka to do so, that incidentally had hosted the 34th edition in this coastal city. Amidst ongoing preparations to host the event, the organizers were confronted with elections announced in Karnataka as well. Oh well-too many hassles to face by our local organizers.

But the local organizers are happy that in a timely manner they got Rs 15 lakh sanctioned by the state government towards organizational expenses etc of the event, even though the estimated expenditure is Rs 38 lakh. The organizers will receive the Rs 15 lakh amount only after the elections-Hope so? But in the interim, it is learnt that many well-wishers and philanthropists have come forward to help organizers meet expenses and help the city live up to its reputation of being model hosts.

But looking at the large number of senior athletes, you can say that Ageing is not ‘ lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength ( Betty Freidman); Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it does not matter” ( Mark Twain); ” The trick is growing up without growing old” (Casey Stengel); ” Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning and training stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind and body young” ( Henry Ford), and ” A sportsman is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her” (Unknown).

As the saying goes, “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a metaphorical phrase which means “you shouldn’t prejudge the worth or value of something by its outward appearance alone”. The phrase is also applied to people. How? Well, before getting to know someone, a person tends to first judge others based on their outward appearance, their nationality, or other external factors. It’s a shame, though, because while a person might look rough on the outside, quite old in appearance, you can never truly know what they are like on the inside unless you ‘open’ them up and get to know them. “Don’t judge a book by its cover, see a man by his cloth, as there is often a good deal of solid worth and superior skill underneath his/her clothing.”

Well said, it applies when we look at older people too. Many a times when we see a senior citizen, we immediately assume that he or she is infirm, finds it hard to get around or has other age related issues- but that inferiority kind of feelings towards seniors should be stopped. Because you don’t know how capable these older folks are- and I just found out that seniors can do much more and bring glory to themselves and the community through their strength and commitment, when I saw hundreds of elderly persons with camaraderie and enthusiasm taking part in the 38th Masters National Athletic Championship.

This Athletic event which has attracted nearly 1600 athletes between the age of 30- 80+ from 18 Indian states, and also Sri Lanka to take part in various sports categories like 100m sprint, 800m, 5000m and 10,000m run, 5km walk, long jump, discuss throw, high jump, shot put, 4x100m relay and much more. Among the youngsters, the older athletes also were showing keen interest and enthusiasm in the sports event. Although many of these elder folks may suffer some sprains, muscle aches, joint pains and other health symptoms, but they all take an challenge as they feel it’s part and parcel of the sports championship.

I respect older people more than anybody else. Because when you talk or mingle with them, you get a different feeling and sensitive touch. They enjoy good camaraderie and like your company and your presence. They want to share their views and news. And off course, I am one of those who adores old age and respects it for its forbearance, compassion, understanding, and also for its maturity. Talking to a older person and getting response is not the same like you have with a younger generation. Old age is a time when one has the advantage of both long standing empirical and existential wisdom (not knowledge).

I had a great time meeting some of senior citizen athletes and interviewing them to get their history, their achievements in sports, their views and thoughts. After I was done interviewing them, I asked for their email addresses so I could mail them the photos and the write-up- but sadly none of them had an email -guess what, they all belonged to the era before intrusion of computers and Internet. They all gave the email IDs, either of their sons and daughters or grandsons and granddaughters. One grandpa athlete on the lighter side of vein said to me, ” Sir, no Email, only FeMail- that’s my wife who handles my correspondence?”. Well said, following are some of the excerpts from the interviews :

Runner Bhaurao T Deotale from Maharashtra:

Aged 84, Bhaurao has been bagging silver medals in many 1500 running nationally and internationally. In 2014, he won silver medal in 400 m sprint in Japan, also a Diploma in Walking, 5 miles in Japan. In 2010, in Malaysia he won silver medal in 1500 run. Too keep him fit, he does regular exercise, simple and diet food, and bicycles regularly.

That refreshing confidence is one of the reasons why he can still create wonders on the field track and win silver medals. “Not many competitors come along in my age group that I can compete against,”
he says, “So I go for the record. Breaking records is my game.” As you get older you may naturally lose your speed ( but not necessarily), but you don’t necessarily lose your strength, he explains. “I feel better now than I have ever felt and I feel that I’m stronger than I was earlier in life. I could run fast now as I could ever do. I feel marvelous.” To say it and mean it at 85 years of age is a testament to training done with the perfect balance of effort, enthusiasm, cautiousness
and downright stubbornness.

Joginder Singh, aged 87 from Chandigarh, Punjab:

Master in Javeline, Discuss, and Shot Put sporting events, Singh had bagged three gold medals in all three games at February 2018 athletic event in Allahabad. While in Indian Air Force, he had represented IAF in Volleyball competitions three times, and had won all three events. He also won a silver medal in 1955 while in IAF, in High Jump with a record 8 ft 5 inches. An ex-Air Fore Sergeant, Singh had fought three wars against China, and twice with Pakistan. Following regular morning exercises, simple diet, and taking ride on his antique motorbike, he says he enjoys life to the most. His message is, “Be happy, keep your brains busy, do good to others, always be helpful to those who need help, be a good Samaritan”.

Shabdath Prashar, aged 78 from Chandigarh, Punjab:

A retired school principal, Prashar has been taking part in 5000 running, 800 m hurdles and has won many silver and bronze medals. In Chennai 1998 sports event, he he bagged medals in 500 and 800 m hurdles. To keep himself healthy and fit, he does morning exercises. daily walking about 5-7 kms, working in his organic farm field- and his message to the youth is, ” Stay away from bad habits. so that you won’t ruin your heath and life. help the needy, especially those who need educational finance help, respect your seniors, especially your old age parents, Fear God and believe in your faith”

Shambaurg Deshpande, aged 86 from Maharashtra:

He has won four gold medals in 100 mts run, and three times silver medals in High Jump- even though he is just within 5 ft in height? He has visited seven countries like South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Regular exercises, healthy diet, and yoga has kept him fit and healthy. A pure vegetarian, he never smoked, no drugs nor alcohol. ” Even if someone offers me I lakh rupees I won’t touch a drop of liquor” he arrogantly said. Running has been his daily dose to stay fit and healthy. “Running showed me kindness and brought me back to life by making me forget all my past problems. When I took up running, it was like meeting God himself. I have been running ever since.” Deshpande said that he will keep running and walking in all the events, till he is able too do it. God is my only hope for my future endeavours in sports, he says.

As per his advise to the youth, he says believe in yourself, don’t give up when you lose first time, try again, and success will be yours. Respect others and be polite and generous. Profiling men like Shambaurg is unlike interviewing “modern” athletes. A young athlete is a picture of sports going well; an old one is a picture of sports done properly. Sportsmen of the moment will often talk in clichés and sing the praises of products and training methods, whereas older athletes – with their firmer handshakes and deeper stares – embody an unspoken doggedness that’s got them through the challenges of their sport for decades. And truly, 86-year-old is a perfect example. Seems like at an age when most pensioners are winding down their lives, Shambaurg has began a new one.

Runner 86-year-old Digambar Joshi from Maharashtra:

For the last 70 years, 86 year-old Digambar Joshi from Maharashtra state, has been on athletic field and has won quite a few gold and silver medals in running and walking events. In 2007 in Malaysia, he won gold in 5k walk, also won medal in 5k walk in Pune; gold medal in 200mts running. He has participated in various sporting events in Chennai, Pondichery, Malaysia and so on. He will be in Sri Lanka on 14 August 2014, to compete in the walking and running events. Although he has been diagnosed and had surgery for prostrate and cheek cancer, he is still active and doesn’t want to give up sports- he wants to be an athlete till he can stand on his own feet.

He attributes his success to his beloved wife, who has always been beside him in his sorrows and happiness, in his success and failures. He said, ” My wife has been very encouraging in my sporting efforts, she is my pillar and my support. She has always been supportive in all my endeavors. I owe all my success to her. Regarding my health, I feel that I am healthy-the secret behind is that I consume strictly vegetarian food, lots of exercise and training, and above all family support”.

68-year-old Runner Sukumaran:

Sukumaran from Kerala has been breaking his own records in the 100 mts and 200 mts running, and 100 m hurdles- in 100 m race in 2013 he took 14.4 secs, this year he finished in 14 secs; 200 m running in 2013, he took 21.1sec, this year 20 sec; 100m hurdles, in 2013 finished in 20.2 sec, this year 20 sec. He has also set a record in Asian games, Malaysia by completing 300 hurdles in 56 seconds.

Sukumaran has won many gold and silver medals in running-100m, 200m, 100m and 300m hurdles in various sports meet in India, Malaysia and Singapore. He is a pure vegetarian, does exercise and practice daily morning from 5am-7am. His main aim in life is hard work, self-esteem, give high respect to others, be sincere, trusthworthy and polite, and show enthusiasm and dedication towards sports, and always be in good spirit.

“Golden Girls” of Throw Events- C M Nagarathna (71), B V Gangambika (77), C M Shantha(72) & M R Sannanajamma (65):

Hailing from Chikmagalur, Bengaluru and Shimoga, these women have won many medals in sprint, walking, shot put, Discuss Throw and Javelin Throw events. These women have toured all over India to participate in athletic events at various cities, and even been to Malaysia, Korea and China, and have brought laurels to them and pride to the community. The secret behind their perfect fitness and healthy lifestyle is that they exercise, walk daily few miles, train themselves daily, and consume veg food and other healthy food substitutes.

This is what the young ladies had to say when I asked for their comments on staying fit and healthy- ” Eating in moderation, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol and tobacco totally, loving near and dear ones, and enjoying life as it comes will make you healthy and fit. Greed, jealousy, anger and pride are killer risk factors which could be avoided. Love, camaraderie, universal compassion and true humility should stimulate the doctor within all of us, our immune system. Keep your body and brain working as far as possible remembering that if you do not use them you lose them. Try to involve yourselves in outdoor activities, including sports. You will be healthy and happy-trust us. We did it, and we are glad we did!”

Also speaking to Team Mangalorean, Mahesh Gunaratna, the Captain of Sri Lanka Athletic Team said, ” We are 47 athletes come here to Mangaluru on the kind invitation of the local organizers. Our athletes will take part in the track and field events, in the 30 plus to 60 plus categories. This is the fifth time that we have visited India to take in sports events. We warmly welcome Indian athletes, also those from this coastal region to Sri Lanka, and be our guests. We are thankful to the organizers for the good hospitality and courteousness so far”

The inaugural ceremony was graced by Yenepoya Abdulla Kunhi-Chancellor, Yenepoya University; H Guru-Working President, IMA; and K Jayramaiah-Secretary, KMAA, Amarender Reddy-Chairman, India Masters Athletics, Gerald D’souza- Secretary, IMA, Dharampaal Sharma- Senior Vice President, IMA, and Thejomaya- Chairman, Organizing Committee. The valedictory of the championship will be on Sunday 15 April at 5 pm, with Sadananda Shetty- Chairman, Sri Devi Educational Trust, along with other guests of honor.

In conclusion, all I can say is that these senior citizen athletes defy age and expectations. They surprise themselves and inspire others with their talents and strength. No doubt that active seniors who want to stay in the race, and by adding some new habits to your old tricks, they absolutely can do so. Whether they are maintaining an athletic lifestyle, returning to running after years off, or embarking on a new fitness adventure, Sports events like these can help these elder sports lovers—and even go for the gold—well into their golden years. Running or other events is one part of their overall health picture.

“Think young and remain young at any age”. I think this quote suits well to these elder athletes who are beaming with pride of their achievements in athletics. Best of luck and May God bless you all- you are all simply an inspiration and a perfect example for the growing up youth to follow in your footsteps for a healthy and sportive lifestyle.

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