I took to the stadium like fish to water. Mohinder Singh, a tall, well-built coach noticed my sister and me running and encouraged us by giving us Nutrine candies. One candy for every round we ran. Thus started our careers in athletics. We made our mark at school sports days and interschool championships. These meets were no less exciting than any world championship! Such was the fierce rivalry among schools. Which team would take the “Best School” honour? Who would be the “Athlete of the Meet”? There was pride in all that. Teams from schools close to the stadium would walk a couple of kilometres in their uniforms to draw the attention of the public. Heads of institutions, teachers, and hundreds of cheerleaders would occupy their place in the stadium. Everybody knew where to sit without anyone telling them. Future champions were born here.
Fast forward to today. Interschool athletics championships are all but dead in our country. In Bengaluru, in the early part of the last decade, an interschool athletics championship used to be held under the aegis of the Bengaluru Sports Club. More than a hundred schools used to participate each year. After a few years, it did gain momentum but it suffered from the basic lack of follow-up. What happens when talent gets unearthed? What are the next steps to develop the talent? Well, after ten years, the championship died.
After the Rio Olympics, I met Usain Bolt in Bengaluru and asked him why Jamaica wa