Swimmer M.B. Balakrishnan dies in Chennai road accident

Balakrishnan, a former 50m national record holder, pursued his higher education in the US and was working there. He had come to Chennai few days ago.

M.B. Balakrishnan. (File Photo)   -  Rohit Jain Paras

Former 50m national record holder swimmer M.B. Balakrishnan passed away in a road accident in Chennai on Tuesday night.

According to police, the 29-year-old was riding a two-wheeler from Koyambedu towards Shenoy Nagar, with his friend riding pillion, when the vehicle made contact with a lorry and he lost control.

“A concrete mixer lorry was ahead of them. The signal turned green and when the two vehicles were 60 meters away from the signal, Balakrishnan who was on the left tried to go towards the right and in the process, his bike hit the lorry,” said Thirumangalam traffic investigation inspector K. Hari.

Balakrishnan’s vehicle skid and he fell on the right, going under the front wheel of the lorry. He died on the spot. The pillion rider fell on the right and escaped with minor injuries.

“Both Balakrishnan and the pillion rider were wearing helmets. The lorry driver Subramaniam tried to apply brakes, but by then the motorist had come under the wheels of the lorry,” said a police officer. The police have registered a case and have detained the lorry driver.

“Balakrishnan pursued his higher education in the US and was working there. He had come to Chennai few days ago,” added the inspector.

Accomplished swimmer

Balakrishnan was an accomplished swimmer. After winning a National Games gold in Guwhati in 2007, he rewrote the 50m backstroke national record in July 2010 at the Senior National championships in New Delhi. He won the 100m and 200m bacsktroke events at the South Asian Games the same year with record timings.

Weeks before his participation in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, he was attacked by a group which many suspected to be his swimming rivals. Despite the incident, he took part in CWG and the Asian Games the same year.

"He was a role model for TN swimmers. He was a born talent, and he was well supported by his parents. If not for that incident (in 2010), he would have possibly won a medal in CWG," said T. Chandrasekaran, Balakrishnan's coach.