KIUG 2023: Literally running for life, the story of Nagaraj Venkatesha

Guwahati, Feb 28 (IANS): After Nagaraj Venkatesha’s father passed away in 2017, the middle-distance runner has been doubling up as one of the bread-earners of the family while trying to keep his athletics career on track.

The Hubli resident has been doing a commendable job and bagged a 3000m steeplechase gold at the 4th Khelo India University Games 2023, Ashtalakshmi, with a dominant performance in Guwahati.

“This was my first gold at the Khelo India University Games, and it comes as a big morale booster for me. I have worked hard on my endurance and fitness, and this medal is an outcome of the hard work. But for me, this is just the start, there’s a lot to achieve. The KIUG has given me the wings to fly higher,” said Nagaraj, who stopped the clock at 9:38.58s to top the podium here for Karnataka University.

The journey to the KIUG gold for Nagaraj, who trains at the RN Shetty ground in Dharwad since Hubli doesn’t have an athletics track, has been nothing short of challenging ever since he took up the sport in 2016.

He lost his father, an electrician by profession, to cancer a year later and put the family under financial stress.

“That was probably the lowest moment of my life, we did all we could to save him, but our prayers went in vain. We lost him, and since then my mother has been my biggest support. I am doing everything for her now, I run Open marathons to run the family,” Nagaraj said.

“The prize money from the Open marathons helps me to support my family, it gets difficult at times, but that’s how we somehow manage things,” he added.

But just when Nagaraj came to terms with the loss and began concentrating on his athletics career again, he had to undergo appendix surgery which kept him out of action for a considerable period.

“Initially I ignored (the stomach pain), and thought it was due to food poisoning but when the pain started getting intolerable, I approached the doctors who recommended removal of the appendix. After undergoing the surgery, it took me some time to get back to action after which Covid-19 struck. So, the comeback was again delayed,” Nagaraj said.

But Nagaraj put all that behind and hopes that the 3000m steeplechase gold in Guwahati will help propel his career further and attract some sponsorship.



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Title: KIUG 2023: Literally running for life, the story of Nagaraj Venkatesha

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