Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hubli to Indonesia Run for Shivananda Hadapada

Shivananda Hadapada from a small village near Hubli is overjoyed that he will be travelling to Indonesia for a runRunning with passion: Shivananda Hadapada Photo: Shreedutta Chidananda

When Shivananda Hadapada received a phone call informing him of an imminent trip to Indonesia, he thought it was a prank. “I thought it must be one of my friends,” he says. It wasn’t. Hadapad finished last month’s TCS World 10K in a time of 35:48 seconds, placing him fourth among the 13,200 runners in the Open category. What the result also did, unbeknownst to Hadapada, was put him first among ‘The Young and the Fast’, a Nike contest for runners between 15 and 24. “I didn’t know where I had finished or what it meant,” he says. “I just ran.”

Next month, Hadapada and Madhuri Deshmukh, who was first among the women in the same age-group, will travel to the Indonesian island of Java for a run in settings that can only be described as exotic. The trail will take in temples over a millennium old, the flanks of the volcanic Mount Merapi, and the Javanese rainforest.

“I have led a life of poverty. This is something I could have never dreamt of. I have no major medals to show, so this brings me great happiness. Naanoo foreign ge hogthaidini (Even I’m going abroad),” Hadapada smiles.

The 24-year-old hails from Nalavadi in Navalgund taluk, some 22 km from Hubli in Karnataka’s north-west. His father, Shekharappa, is a farmer and his elder brother a barber. Hadapada’s earliest memory of running is of dashing to the fields his family worked on – two kilometres from home – and back. “As a boy, nobody told me to run; I ran because I enjoyed it,” he recalls.

A PE teacher from school noted his daily sorties to the farm and introduced him to competitive middle-distance running.

Success followed at the district level and between 2008 and 10, there were medals on the track at the state championships.

For one reason or another, though, Hadapada was unable to rise beyond those heights. After three years at the government-run DYSS sports hostel, his performances did not really improve and he found work as an ‘office boy’, his competitive career essentially over.

It is here that Hadapada’s story takes a pleasant turn. Where others might have jettisoned such pursuits, he continues to train before work. “I want to improve every day,” he states. It does not bother him that he is now an amateur or that he runs only a few open races a year. “There was a time when people in my village asked me: ‘Why are you running? Do you have to get somewhere in a hurry?’” Hadapada says, breaking into a grin. “Now they call me the horse.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sweet Lime the Skateboarder - Bangalore Mirror

An 8-year-old boy living in a hut has picked up a passion for skateboarding and become so adept at it that American print and online magazine Top Grom, devoted to celebrating young achievers in the sport around the world, has named him Grom (young skateboarder) of the Month for February.  But despite the acclaim, and the fresh pair of wheels gifted to him by the magazine, the boy does not have a place to practice because the only free-for-all skating park in his neighbourhood has a stay order slapped on it. 

Meet Shrishaila, aka Sweet Lime, son of a construction worker and a maid from Gadag district in North Karnataka, residing at a shanty with a plastic cover for roof at Sector 2, HSR Layout. Life changed for him a year ago when he ran into a band of cool-looking youngsters who rode bikes and big wooden boards with wheels. 

When curiosity got the better of him, he strolled in and asked the big guys what they were doing. MR Somanna, who taught the kid everything he knows about skateboarding, said: "Shrishaila became very curious about the stunts we were doing. So we took him under our wings and taught him everything about the board itself and are now teaching him different tricks and stunts he can do with it." Somanna and his partners Abhishek and Poornabodh N run HolyStoked Collective, where they have created a large community of skateboarders from the city. 

These youngsters in the 20-30 age group have jobs in different companies, but find time to practise their passion as well as help underprivileged children learn the sport. As part of their initiative, they set out to build a skate park on a property that belonged to one of the partners at HSR Layout. There's an interesting story behind how Shrishaila got the moniker Sweet Lime, and how his achievements with the board got noticed by Top Grom. 

Abhishek said, "We built the park ourselves with cement and construction materials. We received a lot of help from friends, most of whom were foreigners. One of them was Troy Roberts, from Australia, who was shooting photographs and making a documentary on us building the park. He spotted Shrishaila and since he could not pronounce his name, started calling him Sweet Lime. Troy was touched by Sweet Lime's commitment to skateboarding, so he wrote a story on him and posted it on Facebook." 

And the rest, as they say, is history. Sweet Lime's story of how he battled his financial odds to skate using an old board one of his 'annas' (elder brothers) had given him, got picked up by a foreign artist who made a video on the child. That video was in turn seen by Top Grom magazine owned by Top Grom Inc — a merchandising and marketing platform for skateboarding. The magazine selects one child under the age of 13 every month as the Grom of the Month — part of their initiative to promote skateboarding . 

The Los Angeles-based privately held organisation describes a grom or grommet as someone who "isn't necessarily a beginner skater, but a young skater usually aged 13 or under" on their website. 

Somanna added, "We were told by them that Sweet Lime's determination to skate was inspirational, and had to be told to the rest of the world, and that sometimes finding a board to skate is a big thing in itself. They also sent some fresh wheels for his board, but that got lost in the delivery process, so we are pooling in money to give Sweet Lime a fresh pair of wheels soon." 

Life goes on as usual for Sweet Lime who is completely unaware of the international acclaim he has received. A shy boy with a sweet smile, he sits in a corner and watches the older boys skate on the road. Sometimes, he brings his little blue toy car to play on the road, or otherwise borrows his friend's tricycle to go for a spin. If asked to demonstrate some skills, he picks up the board reluctantly. But once he is on it, he forgets that there are people around him. 

Twists, flips and turns are all he can think of while on the board. But his older friends have great regard for him. Abhishek said, "The child has talent and has picked up all these stunts in just six months. Our heart goes out to him since he cannot practise in the skate park we built, where we were teaching kids like him, because a neighbour filed a case against us and now there is a stay order on the park preventing anyone from using it." Sweet Lime looks on, his expression unreadable. He now finds solace in a small ramp that he and his friends have built along a quiet road for everyday practice. When asked whether he was excited to skate again, he said, "I miss these slopes and I know that I cannot skate in the park anymore because the neighbour will come and shout at me." 

Sweet Lime's mother Gangamma said, "My son joined a government school a few months back, but he had taken up the sport much before that. I would have to shout at him every day to change his school uniform at least before going to play on his board, but now he is too scared to even touch it." 

When a team from Bangalore Mirror went to photograph the boy, his parents, neighbours, and friends, along with Somanna and Abhishek, had to plead with him and promise him new wheels just to get him to pose for the camera dressed in his finest clothes. 

Sweet Lime lives in a hut, but the world fetes him for skateboarding - Bangalore Mirror:
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Also see : http://skategypsy.blogspot.in/2013/10/sweet-lime-bangalore-india.html

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For Ucchie, deft does it - From Gulf-times.com

For Ucchie, deft does it

Japan’s best loved and most successful flatland rider was recently in Doha performing before appreciative audiences, writes Aney Mathew

The seemingly young lad comes riding breezily in with his BMX bike; he waves to the crowd and proceeds to perform what look like some ‘cool’ bicycle tricks. Soon however, they are no more just ‘fun’ tricks of a teenager on his bike; they are some serious moves — scuffing, rolling, hopping and spinning. The lad and his bike seem to leap into the air and then land gracefully, as if it were no effort at all; he goes on to execute several back wheel combos and then before you know it, he is balancing himself on the handle bar, his hands in the air — his cycle still in motion.

No, this is no teenage stuntman; he is Yohei Uchino, the reigning BMX Flatland World Circuit Champion — who by the way is not 18 as you would expect, but 31.

Yohei Uchino from Japan, the first Asian to win the BMX Flatland championship, was recently in Doha performing and showcasing his abilities to appreciative audiences. Uchino — Ucchie to his friends and fans — is a Red Bull athlete; he took the Flatland World Circuit crown in 2012, which was followed by another victory in 2013. He’s aiming for a repeat this year. Ucchie is not only Japan’s best loved and most successful flatland rider but a rather popular face on the BMX circuit.

The outstanding attribute of Ucchie’s stunts, is that he makes it looks so effortless even while performing challenging moves — his movements are fluent. He seems to weave the stunts together seamlessly, as he shifts from one trick to another, making it all flow with a rhythm.

Community caught up with Ucchie to get a glimpse of the man and his machine and to get an idea of what inspires him. Speaking in halting English, he talked about his genesis into the sport, his passion and his dreams. It’s interesting to hear how Ucchie had chanced upon the BMX scene — quite by accident. As a keen skateboarder, 17-year-old Ucchie and his friends had headed for a skateboarding competition. But when they arrived at the venue they realised they were at a BMX Flatland championship instead. Watching the event was a turning point in Ucchie’s life; it was love at first sight, he was totally hooked. He hung up his skateboard for a bike and there began his journey into the BMX world.

“I was so excited watching the BMX riders that I wanted to do the same. I began attempting tricks on my bike. Soon after I finished my schooling I moved from Kobe to Tokyo to train under a master. My master Kotaro taught me the lifestyle of a successful BMX rider.

“Beyond tricks, stunts and stylish moves, I learnt other aspects such as how to direct my passion for the sport successfully, how to find sponsors and so on. Above all he inspired me to come up with my own style, combo moves and signature moves”, explains the flatland hero.

Ucchie seems to have picked up his lessons quite well. The ‘Ucchie Spin’, a signature style is a favourite among fans. He executes it by standing on the peg of his back wheel, his arms crossed and accomplishing a wheelie of sorts. The Ucchie spin is the result of another happy accident — he was trying to achieve the ‘time machine spin’ which is a forward spin, but ended up doing it backwards and hey presto a new signature move was born!

“Before I came up with the Ucchie Spin, this particular move was considered impossible”, he explains. His ‘bar ride’ is another innovation. As a matter of fact, Ucchie has several original moves.

“The moves I perform during shows are mostly my own, I don’t like to copy”, he says very simply.

So what does it take to become a world champion? “I practise at least five days a week, up to seven hours each day. But the important thing is, you need to love what you do; it’s about passion not just practise” he points out.

 “When I’m doing tricks, I don’t think of anything else — I just follow my body and my bike and follow the natural flow of movement and perform the tricks — letting no other thought distract me or stress me out. This helps me achieve the incredible spins, jumps and moves which BMX tricks demand of a rider. I strive to reach the limitations of the human body and keep challenging and pushing these boundaries even further.”

Some of the moves performed during championships like the back flip are not only difficult but can even be quite risky. It’s rarely tried and requires very high skill. I’ve had several accidents trying to perfect difficult moves, but fortunately nothing major”, says the BMX sensation.

“Of all the different championships and competitions I’ve participated in, the Red Bull Circle of Balance was the most challenging. The riders perform in front of a paid audience and expectations are very high. You do feel the pressure”, he admits.

Ucchie has had the honour of travelling extensively to showcase his signature moves and back wheel combos. “I’ve visited about 25 countries”, he says, trying to do a quick mental math.

“Of all the places I’ve been to, my favourite has been Pune in India. People there are very kind and very happy. BMX flatland riding was a new concept to most and they were so thrilled; they were cheering loudly, unlike the Japanese audience who are quiet. I enjoyed eating spicy Indian food and shopping for Indian clothes”, he says smiling.

Describing his dream, Ucchie says, “I don’t want to stop participating in championships and am looking forward to the upcoming one in May this year. But beyond competing and winning, my dream is to start a school that will promote several events such as dancing, skateboarding and BMX riding (teaching very complex moves). I want to concentrate on areas where Japan is not strong, so we can develop those areas and become strong competitors at the world level.”

Ucchie’s charm is not limited to the flat piece of land where he lands his bicycle tricks. Down to earth and unpretentious he is very accommodating of the various demands put on him, whether it is posing for photos, signing autographs or readily teaching simple bicycle tricks to people who want to try a few cool moves on their own.

Ucchie has always had the blessings of his loved ones. “My family has always been very supportive of my passion. My parents let me pursue BMX riding when I graduated from high school without any objection. I met my wife Momo at a party several years ago, she was a fan of mine; today, she continues to support my enthusiasm. I have a three-year-old son, Rinatro, who is already rehearsing to become a champion. Of course, he is too small to try tricks, but everyday he practises receiving the championship award like he saw me do, on TV. He throws his arms in the air in a sign of victory. We go through this little victory session every day”, he concludes with a big smile.

Even as Ucchie prepares himself for yet another victory at the upcoming World Circuit Championship, Qatar wishes the BMX champ luck and looks forward to him achieving a hat trick that will be another champion move!


BMX denotes Bicycle Motocross.

Flatland is a freestyle BMX riding style, performed on smooth flat grounds that do not include any ramps, jumps, or grind rails —which is where the style gets its name. The sport requires great balance, agility and patience. The bike has pegs off the side of the front and back wheels which are used to hold the rider’s body in place.

This discipline of BMX involves countless hours of practice to enable a rider to have complete control over the bike. It consists of several different styles, and within each style there are a limitless number of tricks.

For Ucchie, deft does it:

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