Vikas Gowda never bawled as a kid, his father Shive says, recalling how relieved they were as parents to have an exceptionally quiet baby- a big baby, at that.
The 6’9 ½” refuses to cry hoarse even now when the big man of world athletics — he’s the tallest thrower — checks into the Commonwealth Games village at Glasgow, and stares at a peculiar problem wryly, before telling himself — ‘it’s ok. I’ll adjust.’
In front of the 2.06 metre man, is a typically average-sized English bed, a Lilliputan futon for Glasgow’s Gulliver. “We always have problems if Games are held here — London was the same. You stay in the village, and it’s all uniform. In hotels, they can arrange for a king-size bed, and in America, usually everything is extra-large — food portions and even bed sizes,” father Shive says, a little worried about how his son will cope up.
“The beds are the main thing, he couldn’t sleep too well, the first two days. We tried putting out a mattress on the floor, but he’ll need to adjust as it is a standard Games village. He understands and won’t crib but he’d had a bad experience at the Daegu Worlds where a bad bed left him with a stiff back,” Shive says.
The hop across the Atlantic, for India’s premier discus thrower, who is desperate for gold at these Commonwealth Games, comes with another headache: the wispy showers that’ve been drizzling on Glasgow the last couple of days, along with a wet chill.
“Because Vikas is tall, and if the throwing circle gets wet, it can get difficult to balance for a big boy like him. Other smaller athletes might not be troubled as much,” he says.
Phoenix, Arizona, where the 30-year-old trains at the John Godina centre, is a desert, where it refuses to rain.
“It is a major adjustment and can affect by 10-20 per cent if it should rain, but he’s experienced,” Shive says.
But Shive’s biggest fear is that the gold, which Vikas ought to pick based on rankings, shouldn’t end up in a soggy mirage. Vikas had won India’s first silver in men’s throws at Delhi, followed by a bronze at the Asiad and making the finals of the London Olympics. “But this time, anything less than gold will be a disappointment,” says Shive.
Quiet urgency has been creeping up on the father-cum-coach this season, especially after Vikas raised hopes of a stunning season, starting well with a 64.47m at a World Challenge in Hengelo, The Netherlands. However, after a silver at a Diamond League event in New York (61.49), the distances have plateaued out.
“He’s worked hard but you can’t say. There’s 4-5 in the same 64-65 range. But he had a best of 65.62 this season, so I expected an upsurge, and that he might even hit continued…