Friday, August 24, 2012

Let Us Hope For More Medals In The Next Olympics Along With Nagaraj!


Nagaraj of Prime Sports Academy, Chennai 

All of us Indians, were happy that we got the highest number of medals in Olympics, this year...huh, highest number of medals Indians got in the Olympic history. Whether it is Gold, Silver or Bronze, we got 6 medals in total (have a laugh reading this post of mine here!).  Wikipedia has got an interesting article on our Olympic participation here, through the years. All the winners as well as the participants must have gone through so much hurdles before even participating in the Olympics or any sports events in our country. Our sports ministers and the officials involved are interested in using the trip abroad to enjoy shopping and touring the countries.  My cousin's daughter came upto State level in swimming and her mother used to accompany her everywhere.  She used to tell us stories about how they were ill treated during their stay at the competition venues by the officials.  So, sensible Indians will never think of sending their children in the sports line, is a bit different!  We have read stories about P.T.Usha and Shiny Abraham's training in athletics.  They had dedicated teachers/coaches to train them, which is very rare here, in India.

I read about Nagaraj in the Tamil Magazine, Ananda Vikatan who started Prime Sports Academy in Chennai from scratch, to train athletes  from every corner of Tamilnadu (This is a very old article about this academy.  I couldn't get a better recent article on this).  His aim is to get Olympic medals in athletics. Let me write about this man whom I have started admiring now.  Bharathi Thambi has started the article very nicely.  Let me quote that too.  Hope I translate the article reasonably well!

"A bird carries some seed in its beak, from a long distance and drops it on the earth which helps in forming a forest. But the bird hasn't got time to take rest in the forest but starts flying, looking for the next seed to sow on the earth. Some people, like the bird, do good deeds to others without expecting anything in return from them. Nagaraj is one among them."

In Chennai's Broadway area, a narrow lane leads to a tiny gate. Inside, we see young boys and girls running while sweating profusely.  Among them 14 are international champions.  More than 100 are national champions in running, high jump, javelin throw, weight lifting, long jump etc. All are happily training here. The coach Nagaraj started this training school and made his students win medals - Shanthi won silver in Asian Games, Prem Kumar won Bronze.  Gayatri won gold in hurdles in common Wealth Games. Nagaraj is a coach here for the past 24 years. He has got a job in Central Excise and coaches these athletes in the mornings and evenings, without taking any fee from them.  This is just a passion for him.

He says, "Hurdles game is always a poor man's game.  This needs the athlete to just work hard - physically.  Their bodies should withstand the strain of the hard training. Only children with poor background will be able to do it.  Most of the children here come from very very poor family.  Their parents just think that their children are studying in Madras. Only these children will make India's dream of Olympic gold come true"

His native place is Arundavapuram, near Thanjavoor.  His mother is an ayah at the mid-day meal section in a school. It was very difficult for him to buy even a pair of shoes which costed Rs.50 in those days!  He managed somehow with hard work and got a silver medal in junior level High Jump competition (national level competition).  His P.T. teacher was impressed by his hard work and sent him to Madras to study B.B.Ed. (I don't know the expansion of this degree.  Can anyone help?!). The teacher, Mr.Shanmugasundaram said that he would resign his job once Nagaraj gets the degree, so that he could join his job! Nagaraj says that he will never forget his words.

After he got the degree he got a job in Central excise in sports quota.  He was coaching children in the mornings and evenings.  He never married.  Never attended any family function.  He had never watched a movie (this shows his determinatiion). His whole life was spent in training children for the past 24 years.

Sneha Princi, who was coached by him, got a medal in the national level for heptathlon (1989).  K.N.Priya got a medal in the international level in 100m. hurdles.  This was the starting.  Later on many of his students participated and got medals in national and international competitions.   Now 24 of them participate in international level competitions. 14 of them are winners of medals in international level competitions.  More than 100 students are national level competition medal winners.

He says that he visits schools on their Sports Day in small villages and towns and enquire the P.T. teachers to recommend good athletes.  Then Nagaraj would go to their house and request the parents to send them with him to Chennai.  If he told them about just sports coaching they wouldn't let the children go with him.  Nagaraj would assure them that the children would be sent to school, college and then he would arrange for a job for them.  Shanthi, the silver medallist in Asian Games was brought to Chennai in this way!

It was very difficult to find a place for training the children until 2000.  Then the Pachchaiappa College Endowment offered the current playground for training.  But they charged a rent of Rs.8000 rent.  This rent was born by Dr.Babu Manoharan of St.Joseph Engg.College and he also spent 37 Lakhs to clear the place, built a hostel and arranged for buses for the school.  This is the way Nagaraj's Prime Sports Academy started.

Nagaraj also says that the athletes had to spend 10 prime years in hard training to win the medals.  If the Governments and other organizations assure them of a good job in sports quota, many children would happily join the training and work hard to get even Olympic Medals.

Have a look at this video where Nagaraj speaks about himself.  He seems to be a very simple but determined man.  We need more people like him and then can dream about getting more Olympic medals! 

His school needs still more help from people. Needs drinking water at the playground for the children. Needs latest sports equipments which will help the children to participate in the international level games with confidence.

The requirement to join his school: The children should be interested in sports and be healthy. Expenses will be born by the academy and educational qualification is not important. Age limit is from 10 to 18 years.

All the Best, Nagaraj! Let your dream come true and we will all celebrate!

Picture courtesy: Ananda Vikatan 


வை.கோபாலகிருஷ்ணன் said...

Excellent article, Madam. Thanks for sharing.

I have shared an award with you.
Please visit the following Link:


வை.கோபாலகிருஷ்ணன் said...

//Sandhya August 20, 2012 7:13 AM
Ungal valaiulagam azhagaaga irukkirathu.

Congratulations! You have taken so much effort to name the awardees with so much details. Great!

Thank you!//

Thanks for your valuable comments, on 20th itself. vgk

KParthasarathi said...

There are many self effacing selfless people caring for others.The story on Shri Nagaraj has brought out his passion for sports and for making sportsmen/women from sections of people who cannot afford such training.He has dedicated his life for this laudable goal.You did the right thing in mentioning about Shri Babu Manoharan for lending a helping hand.Without money it is difficult to do big things.I hope this post of yours would spur more Nagarajs and Babu Manoharans.India needs alot of them

Sandhya said...

VAI.GOPALAKRISHNAN: Thank you Sir, for the comment and the award. I am really lucky to have the award so early of our acquaintance. Thank you once again.

K.PARTHASARATHY: As soon as I read this article, I wanted to write about it so that more people will know about Nagaraj. Ananda Vikatan had uploaded the video also which was nice of them. I could not find anything else except 2005 article in the Hindu Metro plus. These people should have more exposure so that more people might come out to help his organization.

Thank you, Partha Sir!

R.Ramakrishnan said...

What a selfless and hard working person he is. He is an Amazing Indian.
Sandhya I am in Chennai for one day on 28th August 2012. I am meeting a fellow blogger Bhushavali for lunch. Just saw from your profile that you too are in Chennai. Would you be able to spare time and join us for a lunch meet at Namma Veedu Vasantha Bhavan,Vadapalani.
Please mail me at and let me also have your mobile number for contact. Regards Ram

ashok said...

i read this article in vikadan...salute to him...

Bikramjit said...

I know from personal experience how the selection process works and what goes around.. If only I was in UK 10 years ago then when i actually arrived , things would have been different.

In those days i use to blame my granddad or my father for not putting up the money or using their resources when everyone around was , but now I am thankful they did not, I would have been a corrupt person myself now.

But still its very difficult for true talent to do something , you need more than talent to make a name of uself , Unless you are a Crciketer.

so many people have put their hard selfless work in all, yet its always , well majority of the time the not so deserving who get to the top.

hats off to him and kudos.. thank you so much for sharing it with all of us , I would have never known about him.


SG said...

Excellet. And, salute to Mr. Nagaraj.

Destination Infinity said...

Excellent initiative and efforts. Let us hope that a student from his academy will get the first individual medal in track & field events in the Olympics. First Indian medal, not only Tamilian medal.

There are two things that was striking to me (from his bio). If he was married, he could have developed a couple of kids, max. But now he is developing hundreds of kids. Second, he is concentrating on talented kids from an economically weaker section. He knows that the real talents of India lie there and it is they who can excel through his rigorous training.

Thanks for writing about a real hero.

Destination Infinity

Swaram said...

Its really nice to know about him Sandhya.
My cousin plays shuttle at National Level too and so I get to know about many things that take place. It is so difficult for them to even reach to a level to participate in such big tournaments, so kudos to all of them!

Sandhya said...

R.RAMAKRISHNAN: Thank you for inviting me for lunch, Ramakrishnan Sir. But I will be visiting Gunaseelam temple, Trichy on that day and so, will not be able to meet you. Thank you, anyway.

Yes, Nagaraj is a unique person.

ASHOK: Yes, he is worth the respects.

BIKRAMJIT: Yes, we need more than talent to be successful in sports and you are right, cricket dominates here, pushing behind all other sports!

Did you notice? This time, our cricketers won some important matches during Olympics period, but the media concentrated on our Olympic medallists by showing their events often, interviewing them etc.! This is a good change!

I felt that he should get more exposure. Our media is not covering English. I got only one article on him, that too a 2005 one in Hindu newspaper.

SG: Yes, he deserves the salutes from all of us, SG!

DESTINATION INFINITY: Vikatan says 'olympic tamizhan'. I was not very happy about it! Indian word should be there.

The rigorous training needs more will power and it will be with the poor kids. Did you watch the video? I would like to visit his sports centre one day.

SWARAM: My cousin's wife used to tell about her trip to Punjab for a tournament with her swimmer daughter and had to spend lot of money for food, lodging etc. No arrangement was properly done by the officials. They came with their families and were roaming Chandigarh!

We can never come across a dedicated person like Nagaraj often.

Sandhya said...

SWARAM: I got this in email, Swaram. It is not showing in the comment section. I am copy pasting it!

Swaram has left a new comment on your post "My goof-ups":

hahaha! U r so sweetly honest Sandhya :) God bless u!

Thank you, Swaram!

manju said...

What an interesting post, Sandhya! The selfless work that Nagraj is doing is indeed commendable.

Yes, "Let Us Hope For More Medals In The Next Olympics Along With Nagaraj!"

Rahul Bhatia said...

Sandhya, people like Nagraj make difference in life and you deserve full praise to bring this little known person on centre stage. I wish we had more such people in our country who love what they do!

ashok said...

I have invited you for the "capture the Colors" contest...
Iam sure you will enjoy it.

Sandhya said...

MANJU: Yes, he is doing this work silently without much publicity, Manju. He should be exposed more.

RAHUL BHATIA: He should get more publicity in English magazines and news channels.

Thank you, Rahulji!

Ashok: Thank you, Ashok for the invite. I was not home for a couple of days and it is late now.

Sandhya said...

Zephyr Cybernag
to me
Hi Sandhya,

I am unable to post a comment using open ID on your blog on the NAgaraj post. If you could give the option of name/url it would be great. :)

My comment:

It was a great initiative on your part to bring this article for all to read. What yeoman service Mr.Nagraj is rendering to the sports of this country, that can't produce one gold medal even, in this Olympics. As you say, for a country of 1.25 billion, 6 medals is a laughable tally indeed.

ZEPHYR: I copy pasted the above comment. Thanks a lot for taking the effort to email the comment.

My son says that I will get lots of spam messages if it is changed. I too find it difficult to comment in some blogs. It never gets posted. I don't know the reason. Son checked it now and says it shouldn't be a problem to comment via google or wordpress accounts. Is there anyother kind of problem, Zephyr?

Apart from the Tamil magazine, I have not read about him anywhere else. So, the post was written, Zephyr. Thanks once again for the comment.

SM said...

nice post full of details

Zephyr said...

Thanks for posting my comment and now for putting in the name/url option. What would we do without our children? Thank him too for me :)

P.N. Subramanian said...

Given the political scenario in the country I have doubts of own. I wish Nagraj's dream come true.

Sandhya said...

SM: Thank you!

ZEPHYR: Yes, he is the one who pushed me and pushing me into writing! Thank you, Zephyr!

P.N.SUBRAMANIAN: Yes, he should succeed for all his hard work of years.

Murali Krishnan said...

Kudos to Mr. Nagaraj.
And thanks Sandhiya for posting the article in English.

I was visiting Chennai and I read this article in the vikatan. I was very impressed with Mr. Nagaraj's work. I would like to help him. How can i get in touch with him?


Murali Krishnan said...

Kudos to Mr. Nagaraj for dedication and admirable job.

And thanks Sandhiya for posting this article.

I would like to help Mr. Nagaraj in his quest. How can I reach him?

Sandhya said...

MURALI KRISHNAN: Welcome to my space, Murali Krishnan!

I wrote to Ananda vikatan and asked them how to contact Mr. Nagarajan. I haven't received any reply. Tried in the net for his contact number. No, I couldn't get it. I think you can visit the place when you are here. Address is in the post...near Pachchappa's college.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I have seen some of his coaching when he was conducting training in Madras Medical College ground way back in 2000. He is a great personality. I believe there has to be a small correction in the blog. Mr.Nagraj is married and has a son and daughter, but still he spends more time on the ground with his athletes than his own family such is his dedication to the sports.

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