AZAMGARH DISTRICT Magistrate Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj on Tuesday returned to a hero’s welcome from China. The 33-year-old IAS officer, who was on leave for seven days to pursue his passion, badminton, bagged the gold medal at the Asian Paralympic Championship in Beijing on November 27. Yathiraj, who arrived in Lucknow on Tuesday, met Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav briefly before leaving for Azamgarh.
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The son of a civil engineer from Shimoga district in Karnataka, Yathiraj had surprised everyone a decade ago when left his job as a software engineer in Bengaluru and decided to pursue civil services. While his younger brother is also a software engineer in Bengaluru. The Asian Paralympic Championship was Yathiraj’s first championship under the Badminton World Federation.
A 2007-batch IAS officer, Yathiraj said: “It was not easy to be the DM and at the same time compete with professional players from China, Korea or Malaysia, who have been practicing 24×7… Badminton is my passion and civil services my dream job. I wanted to pursue my passion without affecting my job. I would give two hours in the morning before starting my meetings and then at night whenever I would get time.”
He added that after arriving in Azamgarh about one-and-a-half years ago, his first question to his team was — “Are there any professional badminton players in the district?”
“Much to my surprise, Azamgarh is a hub of budding players and has a number of professional badminton players, who are younger to me and have already played at the national level and bagged jobs under the sports quota. I would watch online videos of techniques used by professional players and then implement them,” said Yathiraj.
While the UP IAS Association is also planning to felicitate him, Yathiraj was surprised when on his way to Azamgarh, he got a call from the deputy commissioner of Shimoga, M Lokesh. A UP cadre officer, Lokesh wanted to felicitate Yathiraj.
The DM said when it comes to badminton, he has two dreams — to play the world championship in Korea and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “I never knew that I would become an IAS officer and that I would win a medal. I have learnt with experience that one should pursue his passion. There would also be challenges…,” said Yathiraj, whose wife is a PCS officer posted in Azamgarh.
“On Diwali, I decided to play for the entire day as it was a holiday. My wife was very angry but she is happy now,” he said as he reached Azamgarh to find a long queue of locals and officials waiting to welcome him.