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Vikas Gowda will be remembered for many reasons, not only because the Discus thrower won many accolades for our country in many major events, but also because he was India’s poster boy in track and field events for the past decade. The fact that the Mysore-born called it a day just a few months before the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games came as a shock to many, but lack of participation in major tournaments since the 2016 Rio Olympics and an ailing shoulder injury may have influenced the decision. Speaking to The Times of India from Maryland, USA, he said, “I was planning to retire after the Asian Games but last week I realized that my body is not responding to training. I was throwing in the region of 61-62m and I was not happy with that. With more load, I could have improved up to 64m but I didn’t want to punish my body anymore.”
The beginningsGowda lived in the United States since he was six and completed his higher education from the University of North Carolina. He simultaneously managed his quest to become a successful athlete making his mark in the 2002 World Junior Championships which was held in Jamaica. His big break came in 2004 when he qualified for the Athens Olympics, finishing at the 15th spot. A year later, he earned a Silver medal in the Asian Championships held in Incheon. Source: Indian Express Thereafter, he participated in 2008, 2012 and also the 2016 edition of the Olympics. But for the 6 feet 9 inches man, the highlight of his career came during his participation in the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games. During the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games, Vikas bagged a Silver medal with a throw of 63.69 metres. The Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010 itself was another big achievement for the athlete claiming a Bronze medal position with a throw of 63.13 metres. But for the ‘Big Man’, the best was yet to come. Gowda won the Gold medal in the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games thus becoming the second Indian to win an Athletics gold after Milkha Singh won the Men’s 440 yards at the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games. Enter 2015, the experienced campaigner managed to defend his Asian Championships Gold medal in Wuhan, China and also finished at the 9th spot in the World Championships. But the 2016 Rio Olympics was the start of a downfall for the Indian, failing to qualify to the main rounds of the meet. By then, the shoulder injury was becoming a major worry and a knee injury soon followed.
The 2017 Asian Championships was the last major tournament he participated in, where he failed to defend his Gold medal. After that, he never regained his lost touch and consecutively performed below par at his practice sessions. It was mainly due to this reason that he decided not to take part in the trials for the Asian Games.
“After a lot of thinking and consulting I have decided to retire from athletics. I do not want to punish my body anymore and I want to focus on the next phase of my life,” said Gowda in an AFI release.
"Way below my expectations"“If I was throwing in the region of 64-65m then I would not have minded flying down to attend the trials. But as I was doing way below my expectations, I didn’t want to push my case. I was training really hard after last year’s Asian meet but in the end, it didn’t click,” said a determined Vikas Gowda. Reportedly, Gowda used to spend a mammoth 1 crore rupees for his personal training at the World Throws Centre in Arizona. His father Shive Gowda left no stones unturned and sacrificed many a thing to make sure they had sufficient funds to support his training. It paid off well at the end of the day. In spite of being so successful in the international circuit, he often had feuds with the Athletics Federation of India for the lack of financial support given to him. Nevertheless, the name ‘Vikas Gowda’ will be forever remembered in the history of Indian Athletics. There will be no like him in the near future and he could have easily been the first ever athlete to win the World Championships and an Olympic Gold if he had remained free from injuries during his heydays. Vikas Gowda will be pre-occupied in his retired life, informing that he will be continuing his studies and is keen to pursue an MBA degree. Not only that, starting an academy is also one of his priorities in the future. But we won’t see the charismatic Discus thrower representing the tri-colour again!