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‘Sir always had time for me’

Ahead of Teachers’ Day, students from across India talk about their classroom favourites and their hopes and expectations from their mentors

My coach and guru is Kashinath Naik sir. He believed that I had the potential for 80 m plus throws and win medals for India. The story of how our partnership started dates back to 2018 when I participated in the Khelo India Games in Pune. I had thrown a distance of about 68 m and won the competition.

After Khelo India, I had returned to Mangalore and joined the college where I was pursuing my second-year B.Com. Kashinath sir took the trouble to get my number from a senior and spoke to me. He first asked me about my training drills, then he gave me the big break by asking me to travel to Pune for trials at the Army Sports Institute (ASI). I was soon throwing 70 m plus under his guidance and became a better thrower with each passing week.

Initially, it took time for me to get entry into the Army. But I was allowed to stay at the ASI campus for training. Before I officially joined the Army, I did not have proper shoes needed for javelin throw. Kashinath sir ensured I got everything I needed like shoes, good diet and even dry fruits. He used to get healthy homemade food for me. I did not have to ask him for anything because he was very generous. Now, of course, the Army takes care of all my needs.

Though there were other javelin throwers in the group, Kashinath sir always had time for me. I have followed his training schedule, and it has helped me get to where I am — sixth place at the World Athletics Championships. 

When Sir asked me to join him in Pune, my technique was not ideal. I was very raw, though I had a strong throwing arm. For instance, the angle of the javelin was too high. He helped me correct it.

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Even now, at times, I tend to throw with a high angle, but the coach is always around to rectify it. Also, I used to bend my knee during the block, but my coach helped me correct the technique further. Kashinath sir also helped me get stronger physically and more confident. When it comes to mental training, he tries and keeps me positive.

Currently, I am a havildar in the Army and my family is proud of my achievements. I took up javelin when a PT teacher in my school asked me to join a group of students who he had short-listed for throws. Some were asked to pursue shot put, others discus throw, and I was selected for the javelin. At that time, I didn’t imagine I would reach a World Championship final.

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(Manu finished sixth in the World Championships final in Budapest and is an Asian Athletics Championships silver medallist)

As told to Nihal Koshie

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