Running. Kho-Kho. Kabaddi. Volleyball. These were just some of the sports that TV Govindaraju loved as a kid. Sometime in the seventh grade, he developed a particularly strong passion for running. That passion has only picked up pace and he has not stopped ever since.

pursue-1.jpg

With experience in short-distance races, and half and full marathons, the stamina has grown over the years. For Govindaraju, the fitness regimen of running at least 50 kilometres every week has been a habit ever since he was a kid. Not a day passes when he does not run a few kilometres. Over the last three decades, that passion has helped him earn 83 medals at a variety of competitions in India and overseas.

Despite his professional commitments, for the man who joined Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages in October 1996 as part of the sales team, running has not stopped. He is now in charge of inbound and outbound shipping of products from the factory at Bidadi.

“My next target is to reach 100 medals. After that I will think of more,” Govindaraju said over phone from Bangalore.

pursue-2.jpg

Jakarta calling

Sometime in 2018, Govindaraju had a request for his manager. He wanted to take part in the 8th Indonesian Open Masters Athletics Championship at Jakarta. For the 47-year-old, it was going to be a landmark in his journey.

The Indonesian Open Masters Athletics Championship invites athletes from across Asia. The race has various categories for different age groups. It also has athletes in other track and field disciplines taking part, making it an important event for sports enthusiasts.

After some internal consultation, Govindaraju was given permission to take part in the championship in October 2018. He raised some money from friends while HCCB gave him leave to pursue his dream.

pursue-3.jpg
Govindaraju did not disappoint the people who had put their faith in him. He put in his best, and along with a team, won a bronze medal in the 4X400 metres relay. In the 800-metre race he ended up in the sixth position. The one week he spent in Jakarta was well worth the effort.

“I cherished every moment I spent taking part in the race,” he recalls. He could not end up among the top finishers in the individual races, but the experience he gained made him aim higher.

Over the last few years, he has been taking part in various races in different parts of the country. The commitment to his work does not have to suffer as he makes it to the races during the weekends. These days he is working hard to win the gold medal at the International Masters in Italy, this year.

Teaching the next generation

While he learnt the skill on his own and honed it with passion, Govindaraju now spends time teaching kids. The man from Talakad village in Mysore has helped train nearly 2,000 high schoolers so that they can learn to stay fit and grow a passion for sports, particularly running.

He can often be seen in the nearby Sri Kanteerava Stadium with a bunch of kids, sharing with them small nuggets of wisdom- a familiar face for them on the athletics track.

pursue-4.jpg
Each morning begins with a run of at least five kilometres. There are days where he practices sprints while on other days, he goes for the long distance to build his stamina.

“Running is a part of my life. Not a single day passes when I feel so unwell that I can’t run. I am very fit and would love to run for as long as I can,” Govindaraju says.

The running does not include the time he spends in keeping himself fit through other forms of exercise.

Govindaraju is also a hero for his own kids. At their Bangalore home, the trophies and medals inspire his two children, who have taken after him. His daughter is a budding athlete while his younger son is a state-level hockey player.

The children have seen their father run for fun and fitness growing up. They are also sure to see his medal haul get richer in the coming years.