Mumbai: SoBo's new at-track-tion at Priyadarshini Park gets athletes on their toes

Updated: May 13, 2019, 09:53 IST | Hemal Ashar |

Priyadarshini Park's needle back on speedometer with athletics track overhauled within five months; local coaches enthused about zippy surface

A bird’s eye view of the new PDP track. Pics/Ashish Raje
A bird’s eye view of the new PDP track. Pics/Ashish Raje

It was smiles and speedy miles at the Priyadarshini Park (PDP), Napean Sea Road, on Sunday morning, as the community gathered to witness the inauguration of the new athletics track. The makeover of PDP's old track was long overdue, with the original 1988 old synthetic track showing signs of wear and tear. In December last year, a new track was gifted to PDP by Reliance Foundation. The new 400m, eight-lane track costing approximately R4 crore was opened to applause, short speeches and the release of ceremonial balloons, as SoBo's swish set soaked in the sun and sporty sentiment.

Memories
The part where the track is placed is now called Priyadarshini Park-Rasikbhai Meswani Sports Complex (the late Rasikbhai was Dhirubhai Ambani's brother-in-law). B A Desai, president, Malabar Hill Citizens Forum (MHCF), which has developed and maintains the PDP, said, "My association with the Meswanis goes back a long way. Rasikbhai was full of life and liked white safari suits. At that time, the all pervasive jingle was… Only Vimal, today it is Only Jio (there were laughs, to this). He was known as the textile guru."

Limbering up on the new track
Limbering up on the new track

Community
Desai added, "Earlier, the PDP used to host the National Athletics Championships, but our ageing track made us drop off the athletics map as a venue. Today, this track is back. I dedicate this complex to the community and the MHCF is committed to making it a centre of excellence for sports, fitness and yoga." The mic went to Y P Trivedi (former MP) who brought in a whiff of nostalgia when he said, "almost 60 years ago, two gents sat opposite each other in rented premises and dreamed big. From that dream came Reliance. The genius of Dhirubhai cannot be separated from the genius of Rasikbhai."

Also read: BMC plans 13 cross tunnels for coastal road in Mumbai

Emotional
An emotional Rajaniben, Rasikbhai's wife, said she could not believe, "the gift that has been given to me on Mothers' Day, the opening of the brand new track at PDP," while Nikhil (Rasikbhai's son) said, "Milind Deora told me that I must do this [help for a new track]. So did Mukeshbhai (Ambani) and here, we are now, at this happy moment, aptly, for my mom on Mothers' Day." The speakers and locals then moved to the new track, where the Meswani family along with the MHCF committee including its general secretary Susie Shah, cut the ceremonial ribbon. Children released balloons, as a cheer went up.

Sporty feel
Track coaches Dinanath Maurya and Savio D'Souza who were on the track, gently testing it and lightly jumping on the springy new surface said, "After 30 years, the old track had outlived its life by decades, not just years. We hope to see an improvement in training and timings of our local athletes. Every sporting facility needs to be overhauled once it has completed its shelf life and reached expiry date to ensure that it is kinder on athletes' bodies." The track was constructed by Syncotts International in collaboration with a German company called Stockmeier. When it comes to PDP, it is obviously desi-German bhai, bhai as the older track too was made by German company, Balsam Sports. 

Also read: Mumbai: German firm to lay synthetic athletics track at Priyadarshini Park

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