Chennai: The clock strikes 8 in the morning and John Edward Daniel walks to Railway Ground in East Tambaram to train his students.
They say age is a barrier for one to indulge in physical activities, but John proves it otherwise. He is also a role model to many capable retired people who are clueless about how to kill time.
At 61, the Selaiyur resident can be spotted walking briskly with his tracks on and whistling to his students to perform well. He trains and guides sportspersons – all without strings attached.
“I was naturally inclined towards sports back in my hometown, Dindigul, that led me to win accolades throughout school, college and also at work,” he told News Today, all the while giving instructions to his students.
Sharing more information about his interest, he adds, “There were not many sportspersons in the district as it lacked facilities. However, it did not deter my school and many were found excelling in events like football and hockey, among others. That sparked my desire to get into sports.”
John excelled in all the events he participated in and won first place. He was particularly strong in athletics. Identifying his strength, his coaches advised him to refrain from contesting in other sports as it would lead to injuries.
“I slowly began withdrawing from other games and began focusing on athletics and made a mark up to class 12,” he explains.
However, things were not as rosy as it may sound now. He faced severe hurdles in the form of his parents. Being the first of five children, his parents wanted him to tread the beaten path – pursue engineering and have a secured life. An adamant John sneaked out to practise, going against his parents’ wishes.
Following this, with the help of a sports club in Madurai, he won the first place in long jump and triple jump.
For pursuing undergraduation, John relocated to Devakottai, where he continued to take part in competitions, won in several State-level championships and made it to the nationals in several instances; but he could not win.
When asked about it, he says, “Although I was able to excel, due to lack of sponsorship and not knowing the regional language, I had a tough time.”
Soon after this, he was offered a job at Chennai Port Trust and took part in events held within their pan-India circle. Life took a different turn and he became busy with his regular life. Not stopping with that, he was qualified to do umpiring in Commonwealth Games when it took place in India.
He reached his retirement age and wanted to do something for society. That is when John decided to train upcoming sportspersons without taking a penny in return.
“A majority of my male students have entered the police service and female students have made it big in their lives,” he recalls happily.
Wish John on 94440 40335.