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On gold chase, athlete needs aid to cross cost steeple

Road sprints, simple diet & a happy home keep 62-year-old Pramanik in fine fettle for world meet in France

Achinto Pramanik with his medals at his residence in Gamharia earlier this week. Picture by Bhola Prasad

He doesn't run away from challenges; he runs over them.

Meet veteran athlete Achinto Pramanik who recently proved his mettle in the nationals and, pocket willing, hopes to strike gold in the world championships, scheduled in France next month.

Single-minded at 62, Pramanik has found a coveted berth in the 60-member (men and women) squad for the World Masters Athletics Championship to be held in the city of Lyon between August 4 and 16, but lacks adequate resources to meet overseas travel expenses.

"It will be my international debut and I shall leave no stone unturned to make India proud. But, the trip to France will approximately cost me Rs 2.5 lakh and the Masters Athletics Federation of India (MAFI) doesn't pay for athletes representing the country. So, I have rustled up Rs 1.5 lakh and requested chief minister Raghubar Das for aid," said Pramanik, a resident of Gamharia in Seraikela-Kharsawan district.

The lanky athlete may have lived his whole life on the tracks, but still has that spark of youth in his ambitious eyes.

"I have sent an entry fee of Rs 11,000 to the World Masters Federation so that I can compete in at least the 2,000m steeplechase. I run a general store in Gamharia and cannot afford money to compete in more than one event," he said, adding that he had also approached the corporate sector for help to complete his budget travel.

Pramanik bagged three medals at the 36th National Masters Athletics Championship held in Panjim, Goa, between April 25 and 29. He clinched gold in the 2,000m steeplechase, which is primarily an obstacle race that originated in Ireland and derives its name from steeplechase in horse racing. In the 800m and 1,500m runs, he claimed silver and bronze, respectively.

The sexagenarian sweats out for four hours every day to keep himself in fine fettle. "I leave home at 4am to run the 4km Gamharia-Kandra Road. The routine is same in the evening. I run and do stretches to keep myself fit. Fitness should never be a deterrent when you are representing your country," Pramanik said.

What about diet? "It is simple and vegetarian. I take two chapattis with tea for breakfast; rice and dal for lunch; and chapatti and milk for dinner. In between, I don't eat anything except a lot of milk and curd," he revealed one of his secrets to battle the bulge that normally accompanies age.

But, there is more to his mantra of success than just diet and exercises. "The ability to run that extra mile lies between your ears, they say. So, I always smile and stay happy. I don't get tensed. I crack jokes with everybody - be it my wife Suchitra, son Sanjiv, daughter Sunita or daughter-in-law Priya. I love to play with my grandson Sonu. The jolly ambience at home gives me the energy to run," Pramanik summed up with his signature grin.

Should the government not sponsor sports talent like Pramanik? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com

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