Mangaluru, Apr 30, 2015: Twenty eight years ago that Mangaluru hosted a major national level track and field meet - "Open National Championships" in 1987. There has been a great change in the two decades but he aims and sentiments have changed little with the top athletes coming to Mangaluru for the Sports meet April 30 to May 4 2015.
An area ’South Kanara’ of old that produced fine athletes of the country will renew an old link when the 19th Federation Cup athletics is inaugurated on April 30, Thursday. Mangala Stadium here has got a good face lift and the change and hype is welcomed by citizens.
Former sprint ace Ashwini Nachappa, who was one of the stars at the 1987 Nationals said that it is indeed wonderful the Federation Cup has come to Mangaluru . The region has produced some outstanding athletes, "I pleasantly recall 1987 meet - there were huge crowds of spectators with a lot of enthusiasm," Old-time sports admirers talk about the exploits of Sridhar Alva, decathlete and high jumper, in the sixties. Javelin thrower Sunil Kumar Shetty, 800M runner Damodar Gowda, quartermiler Vandana Rao, highjumper Anitha Thantri, decathlete Babu Shetty, sprinters Anil Shetty and Clifford Joshua all have left their mark hailing from around Mangaluru; an exclusive mark and place belongs to Anand Shetty.
’Sprint king’ Anand Shetty died in a car accident two years ago, he held the fort and the scene in the 1980s and a high point in his career came in front of his home crowd when he swept the 100 and 200M dash races in 1987. It was a sprint glory for Karnataka then, with Ashwini emerging winner in the women’s 100M.
" Anand will be missed by all of us," says Ashwini with true nostalgia. "His performance more than victory then created euphoric moments which I will never forget, my win meant Karnataka had won both the 100M titles," said Ashwini, who also ran her first 400M in that championship. "There was drama in that race with Vandana Rao, Mangaluru’s favourite daughter, getting disqualified for two false starts, that upset the crowd," says Ashwini, who finished fourth in the race won by P T Usha.
P T Usha, also won the 200M besides featuring in the victorious 4x100 and 4x400 relay squads, also remembers the enthusiasm for the event back then. Usha said, " The stadium being in the heart of city, the crowd was great and the meet a memorable one always remembered". P T Usha will have a new role, as the coach of 800M champion Tintu Luka.
Twenty-eight years after Usha and Ashwini set the venue ablaze, the stadium also has undergone a change, with a synthetic track replacing the clay track of old. The faces are also new, with the likes of M R Poovamma, Sahana Kumari and Abhishek Shetty carrying the torch of Mangaluru athletics. The fans, certainly, have lots to cheer for as action gets under way in this cultured Port city of Mangaluru where more than 800 participants are to take part with a good crowd back up of sports enthusiats.