Andheri athlete participating in Olympics needs 15 lakh to train

Updated: Jan 19, 2018, 17:45 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

Siddhanth Thingalaya, eyeing Olympics race category where no Indian has participated in 55 years, in dire need of funds; needs Rs 15 lakh to continue training

Siddhant Thingalaya, who holds the national record in 110m hurdles, is training under American speed specialist Gary Cablayan
Siddhant Thingalaya, who holds the national record in 110m hurdles, is training under American speed specialist Gary Cablayan

A 27-year-old athlete from Andheri, who made headlines last June when he created a new national record in the 110m hurdles at the Altis Invitational Meet in Phoenix, Arizona, has hit one of his career's biggest obstacles. Lack of funds has come in the way of his becoming the first Indian in nearly 55 years to participate in the 110m hurdles at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Siddhant Thingalaya is training under renowned American speed specialist Gary Cablayan in Los Angeles
Siddhant Thingalaya is training under renowned American speed specialist Gary Cablayan in Los Angeles

Gurbachan Singh Randhawa was the last Indian to race in that category at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. Siddhanth Thingalaya, who has been sweating it out under famed American trainer Gary Cablayan in Los Angeles for the last three years, needs around Rs 15 lakh to continue training. His father, Umananda Thingalaya, a retired bank cashier, has already pumped in all his savings into his son's sporting career.

Siddhant Thingalaya

Last year, Siddhanth, who towers at 6'3", completed the 110m race at a record-breaking speed of 13.48 seconds, breaking the previous national record of 13.59 seconds. He is currently training for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, and Asian Games in Jakarta, which will be held this year. But, his eye is set on clinching a medal for India at the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo.

Siddhanth, however, doe­sn't have the financial strength to continue training in the US. "I need to correct the minute mistakes I made in the World Championships in London last year. I am confident I can make India proud in the upcoming international games, but I need financial support. "My parents have left no stone unturned for my training, but they don't have anymore money. I hope the authorities consider my situation," he said," Siddhanth told mid-day in a telephonic interview from LA.

He was previously sponsored by the JSW Foundation and the Mittals Champions Trust. Cablayan is a speed specialist, who has previously worked with National Football League players like DeSean Jackson and John Ross. Recently, the Maharashtra Ministry of Education and Sports had extended support by providing a grant of R5 lakh under the Mission Olympics 2020. This is hardly enough to cover $2000 (Rs 1.27 lakh) that he pays per training session.

Siddhanth's representative Panini Vakil said that when they sought additional financial aid from the ministry, they were asked to provide a break-up of all expenses. "We submitted a letter from his coach, and are grateful to the ministry and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for granting us funds. But, we need Rs 15 lakh more," said Vakil.

At present, Siddhanth has been meeting travel expenses from his own pocket. "I have approached the Athletics Federation of India to get me into the Target Olympic Podium Scheme to assist my training, but I am yet to hear from them. I have also registered with crowd funding site ImpactGuru," he said. "This is my only chance, I don't want to lose it."

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