Defying age and re-setting goals constantly, M. Krishnam Raju and T. Naresh, the only beach volleyball players to represent the country in the Senior Asian beach volleyball championship to be held in Pingtan (Fujian, China) from June 23, are chasing an elusive medal.
The reigning national champions, training on the Ramakrishnapuram Beach in Visakhapatnam for the Asian meet since June 10, feel they are in the best frame - both mentally and physically - as they get ready for their second ever appearance in the championship.
“By virtue of being in the top 32 teams in Asia which is possible because of our consistency in the circuit, we qualified for the China meet. We are more optimistic and confident this time around,” the 39-year-old Raju told Sportstar.
Interestingly, Raju and Naresh (37 years), both Inspectors in Customs and Central Tax (GST, Hyderabad), have been playing together for more than a decade, being national champions five times, three times runners-up besides being National Games gold and also Central Asia champions.
“Age has never been a factor and fitness has been our strong point as we ensure there is the desired discipline - both on and off the court,” Raju said.
“Thanks to the complete support of our Department, we could train and compete in so many events over the years and also to the national federation and the State Associations of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana for always ensuring that we get the best training facilities and also a huge support from our family,” he said.
“Yes, it sounds strange that we both hail from Hyderabad because of our job (though representing Andhra Pradesh in the Nationals) and train in a City where there is no beach but master the nuances of the sport at the Musheerabad Playground,” said Naresh.
On the prospects in the Asian meet, both of them said they should realise their goal of winning a medal given the long camp in Visakhapatna, where they were training with national players Manikanta and Sa.
“Yes definitely, the bigger dream is to represent India in the Olympics (the qualifiers scheduled later this year) and the 2023 Asian Games. We are not short on confidence and hope to script a new chapter in beach volleyball history of India,” they said.
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