Form and fitness have eluded him in the last couple of years, but top Indian discus thrower Vikas Gowda has not given up and hopes to be back to his best next year.
Gowda, who turned 34 two days back, won a bronze yesterday at the Asian Championships with an effort of 60.81m which was well below his own best. His best each year since 2004 has been above 64m but since the beginning of last year it has become difficult for him to cross even the 60m mark.
“For the second part of my career, I had maintained a very high standard but the last three years have been very tough with a lot of injuries. I am feeling better and I think five-to-six months of consistent training on my body will take me back to where I was earlier,” said Gowda.
“I think next year will be better for me. There is the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. I hope to do well in these events.” The United States-based Gowda suffered a knee injury just before the Rio Olympics and he had a disappointing outing at the biggest stage of all as he failed to make it to the final round with a best throw of 58.99m at the qualifying round.
Many in the Athletics Federation of India feel that Gowda had not revealed the exact nature of his injury. This time, the AFI wanted to make sure that all the athletes are fit for a big event like the Asian Championships and Gowda was called for a trial here.
He underwent the trial on Sunday and could only throw 57.79m. His place in the team was rendered doubtful but cleared just a day before the start of the event. He, however, had a throw of 62.35m in his home base.
Gowda, however, sought to shrug off the controversy, saying that he was neither disappointed nor it had impacted on his final result.
“Not really. Had the trial been in India and the competition was to be say in Australia, I would have been upset. But the trial was at the competition venue and so it did not affect me at all. I just took the trials as a kind of practice. Being in India helped me cope with the situation,” he said.
“It was hard to come back after an injury. I had not have a great going after the comeback. It was all right, overall I am happy with my bronze medal. Technically I was all right but I have not been able to gain enough strength on my body,” he said.
Another criticism on Gowda has been that he did not participate in the national tournaments to represent India in international events. Asked about this, he said, “I have no reaction on that. I have been doing this (not taking part in national championships) for a long time. For me, personally I think I have proved myself consistently in the last 10 years.
“I have been one of the best in Asia for these many many years and I have been among the best 15 in the world.” Asked if he will try and qualify for the World Championships by taking part in any event in the next 15 days or so, he said, “I have to speak to my coach in the next few days and take a call on that. Maybe in the next one month we will have a on plan whether to continue in this season or straightway come next year.”
Mysore-born Gowda’s family moved to Maryland, USA just before he turned six. His father Shive was a former athlete and a national coach in 1988 Olympics. Gowda is one of the most decorated Indian athletes having won a gold in the 2013 and 2015 Asian Championships. He also won the gold in the 2010 Commonwealth Games and a silver in the 2010 Delhi CWG. In the Asian Games, he won a bronze in 2010 and a silver in 2014.