Exclusive: Meet the 64-year-old Dubai cricket coach who won gold in 5km walk

Sudhakar Shetty hopes the medal will inspire his sports academy students to work even harder on their game and fitness

by

Rituraj Borkakoty

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Sudhakar Shetty (centre) celebrates after winning the gold medal. — Supplied photo
Sudhakar Shetty (centre) celebrates after winning the gold medal. — Supplied photo

Published: Fri 10 Nov 2023, 12:37 AM

Sudhakar Shetty, founder and head cricket coach at Dubai's Maxtalent Global Sports academy, wants his wards to go the extra mile in pursuit of excellence.

It's not the talent alone that intrigues him when he sees a young player for the first time.

What he also wants to see is the desire to work hard on fitness to turn those singles into twos, make the sliding saves in the boundary and take those running catches.

That's the rule he has set at the academy he founded in 2006.

Now at 64, this veteran Indian coach wants to lead by example.

For the first time in 40 years, the former state-level track-and-field athlete returned to the track to run and boost his own fitness level.

After months spent on the track, Shetty entered the field at the Open International Masters 2023 Athletics Championship (60-65 category) in Dubai where he claimed two medals.

“I won the gold medal in the 5km walk, the bronze in the 800m and finished fourth in the 400 metres," Shetty told the Khaleej Times.

But more than the medals, Shetty's heart was filled with joy for returning to the track after 40 long years.

"The last time I hit the track was when I represented Mumbai in the Maharashtra state athletics championships in my teens," he said.

"As a sportsman, you should always have the spirit to make those comebacks."

Shetty now hopes his comeback will inspire his academy students to work even harder on their game and fitness.

"The athletics championship have taken place at a time when thousands of people in the city are participating in the Dubai Fitness Challenge," he said.

“So I just wanted to send a message to my students about the importance of remaining healthy and fit. I am a strong advocate of fitness and a healthy lifestyle."

Shetty, who counts former Indian opening batsman Lalchand Rajput among his old rivals in Mumbai's club cricket, says it's important for a coach to set the example on the field.

"Since I am a cricket coach and give a lot of importance to fitness for my young students at the academy, it’s important for me to be as fit as I can be at 64," he said.

"Of course, I can’t be as fast as them on the field, but it matters a lot if I am at my best. I want to be a good example for my students.

"If they see me work hard at my age, that will inspire them to go the extra mile!"

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