Discus thrower Vikas Gowda calls it quits

One of India’s most decorated athletes, Gowda has competed at the highest level for more than 15 years.

Vikas Gowda has stayed away from major international events since winning a bronze medal at the Asian Championships in 2017.   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

One of the only three Commonwealth Games gold medallists for India in athletics, Vikas Gowda decided to quit the sport on Wednesday.

The 34-year old discus thrower said he did not want to “punish his body anymore” and wanted to go out on a high instead of struggling with his fitness in an exclusive interview with Sportstar from the U.S. “I wanted to continue till I could manage the level I had set, I never wanted to retire or anything but I did not want to struggle with something below the benchmark I had set for myself.

“I love track and field, I have been throwing discus for 20 years now and never wanted to stop, it's what I have been doing all my life. But I did not want to continue putting my body through all this,” Gowda said.

The current national record holder with a 66.28m throw on April 12 2012, could only manage a bronze with a distance of 60.81m at the Asian Championships in December last year — his last competitive outing.

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Gowda is also only a handful of Indian athletes to participate in four Olympics, managing 58.99m at Rio. His best Olympic performance though came in the previous edition, when he finished eighth with a throw of 65.20m.

Awarded the Padma Shri in 2017, Gowda became the second Indian in 56 years to win an athletics gold at the 2014 CWG with a throw of 63.64m – the first in a field event till Neeraj Chopra joined the club this year.

Questions were raised after he skipped trials for the 2018 CWG but Gowda said he was struggling with injury. “I wanted to come for the Federation Cup (the final selection event) but I had a left knee injury that took 5-6 weeks to recover. I started training again after the CWG but the body wasn't co-operating,” he said.

Asked about his future plans and whether he would like to continue being associated with Indian athletics, Gowda was non-committal. “Will definitely be associated with track and field but right now the main target is to go back to school, complete my studies and get my MBA. Not for the next few months of the next year but sometime in future there definitely is that possibility. If the federation wants my help in anything ever I would love to work on it,” he signed off.

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