Race-walking coach Gandhi passes away

National race-walking coach Ramakrishnan Gandhi died of cardiac arrest in Bengaluru on Sunday. Gandhi, who also trained middle and long-distance runners, had been a member of the teaching faculty at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), South Centre.

Coach Ramakrishnan Gandhi along with race-walkers Gurmeet Singh (left) and Baljinder Singh (right), at a training session at SAI in 2012.   -  K. Murali Kumar

National race-walking coach Ramakrishnan Gandhi passed away here on Sunday. He was 55 and died of a cardiac arrest. Gandhi complained of unease before collapsing in the early hours of the morning at his residence here. He was rushed to hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival. Gandhi, who also trained middle and long-distance runners, had been a member of the teaching faculty at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) - South Centre - here since July, 2002.

“I've been in the sport of race walking since 1998. I have never seen a coach like him,” said Gurmeet Singh, who represented India in the 20 km race walk event at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

“He knew how to motivate people. He turned my career around in 2010 and helped me qualify for two Olympics. The man had no greed at all. I got cash awards after I won gold in the Asian Championships this March. He wouldn't accept even a bit of it. As an sssistant coach, I wanted to learn as much as possible from him before he retired in 2021. I can never dream of becoming as good as him.”

Dr. Y.S. Lakshmeesha, also an athletics coach at the SAI here, paid tribute to Gandhi. “He was a highly committed coach. He was calm and never negative about anything. He worked all the time. He was a dear friend. He had four years of service left. His loss is very hard to digest,” he said.

A mild-mannered man, Gandhi had also served as physical trainer to the Indian women's hockey team from 2008 to 2010.

“We had a long recovery session yesterday. I can't believe he's no more,” said Gurmeet. “During training sessions, he'd cycle next to me while I walked. I'll miss him a lot.”