Saturday, February 10, 2001

Keeping tryst with the race-track
By Peeyush Agnihotri

"WHERE there is will, there is a race track" — that’s how the post-retirement life of 75-year-old Nihal Chand Garg can be aptly summed up .

Nihal Chand GargEight years ago, Nihal Chand could barely walk owing to depression related to a domestic problem. While doctors had then stated that he would have to exercise his will to live, a soothsayer had forecast that he wouldn’t live beyond 1993.

But God willed otherwise. Today, this septuagenarian is not only fighting fit but has won a silver medal in athletics. Nihal Chand, who retired as an Assistant Postmaster in 1984 and belongs to Moga, has settled in Chandigarh after his retirement.

His tryst with the race-track formally began in July 2000, when he sneaked out of his house, with a track-short tucked under his arm, and headed straight for the Sector 7 Sports Complex. He participated in three events (5 km walk, 100 and 200 m races) at a veterans’ meet there. Though he did not win any medal, he came up to the national standards.


Then he started practising hard for the 22nd National Veterans’ Athletics Meet to be held at Bhopal in the first week of October 2000. There too he did not win any medal but came back richer, both in confidence and experience.

Later in November, Nihal Chand participated in the 11th Asian Veterans’ Athletics Meet and bagged a silver medal in 100 m relay race. In the 5-km walk, he was placed fourth. The first position was attained by a Japanese, while the second, third and fourth slots were bagged by Indians.

These days Nihal Chand is preparing hard for the International Veterans’ Meet to be held in July in Brisbane, Australia. He gets up at 5 am and practises hard. "I have reduced the intake of chappatis and have included juice, salad and dalia in my diet, which is purely vegetarian," he says.

Elders, they say, are a guiding force for the younger generation. Probably by bagging a few medals, our veterans may set an example for our regular Olympics squad.