By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, July 7 (IANS) No ordinary thief can outrun this city police constable. If a thief outran this city police constable then one will have to conclude that the former is an Olympic Games material.
Meet the special police constable or ‘police express’ and the Indian athlete 25-year old P. Naganathan who is bound to Tokyo Olympics as a member of India’s 4×400 metres men’s relay team who has come up the hard way.
Born into a big and poor family, Naganathan used to work as a construction worker in his native town during weekends and school vacations while studying 10th standard.
“In a way it has helped me in my sporting career as I was able to gain stamina and power by lifting bricks and other construction materials,” Naganathan mused.
The young tender shoulders not only bore the weight of the bricks and other materials but also the family that was in dire financial situation.
Naganathan’s father Pandi was a construction worker and mother Panchavarnam, a homemaker.
During the major part of his school days, Naganathan used to run in races bare foot-even in the 1,500 metres race.
It was after making a mark in the inter-school/district meets he was presented with shoe spikes by his school and he got a shoe on his own.
Speaking about his coaches Naganathan said during his school days he was trained by Veeravel and while in college it was Sivabalan and Senthil.
After joining the police force, Naganathan is trained by coach Prabhakaran.
His sporting career became a bit easy after he joined the PTMTM College where his physical training teacher and others helped.
After he joined the Tamil Nadu police force things started to ease fast.
Queried about his training schedule Naganathan said: “Normally I hit the police grounds in Chennai at 6 a.m. train till 8 a.m. Do the warm-up exercises, weights, running with shoe and other things.”
Days before a competition, he does road races, increased weight lifting, full races with spike shoes and also does power track – running about 80/90 metres pulling a weight plate.
“In movies you might have seen a hero pulling a huge tyre tied to his body before a big fight. Instead of tyres we do the weight plates as it is a synthetic track,” he added.
Initially Naganathan would practice during the free time available after police duty. But after winning the medal in the All India Police meet, senior police officials have asked him to focus on his training.
Hopeful of India getting an Olympic medal this time in the 4×400 men’s relay event, Naganathan said his next target will be to participate in Asian and Commonwealth Games individual events and think about tying the wedding knot four years latter.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)