Chennai: An unfortunate road accident on Tuesday claimed the life of noted Chennai swimmer M B Balakrishnan (29) who has won medals in the 2010 South Asian Games and held the national record in backstroke swimming.
According to police, Balakrishnan was riding a Royal Enfield from Arumbakkam to his house in Jayalakshmi Colony, Shenoy Nagar in Chennai with a friend who was in the pillion seat.
While overtaking a ready-mix lorry at EVR Salai, his bike touched the lorry and he lost control. He fell in front of the lorry and the front wheel ran over him, while the friend fell the other way and escaped unhurt.
His body was sent to Government Kilpauk Hospital for post mortem. The Anna Nagar traffic investigation wing is handling the case and lorry driver Subramanian (32) of Villupuram was detained by police. The accident was recorded in a CCTV camera at the spot.
Balakrishnan is the son of Dr M B Badrinath. He was an alumnus of Guindy Engineering College and did his MS in the US where he was working. Neighbours and friends recall that Balakrishnan was an avid and responsible biker. Both Balakrishnan and the pillion rider were wearing helmets when the accident happened. The funeral for the 29-year-old champ was held on last Wednesday.
Balakrishnan used to practice at the SDAT swimming pool at Shenoy Nagar, which is the training ground of many talented swimmers in the neighbourhood. His coach was T Chandrasekaran, the secretary of the Tamil Nadu State Aquatic Association.
He said, “Balakrishnan was a role model for swimmers in the State and could have gone on to win bigger laurels. He was a born talent and was very humble and friendly.”
Balakrishnan was an accomplished swimmer. After winning a National Games gold in Guwahati in 2007, he rewrote the 50m backstroke national record in July 2010 at the Senior National Championships in New Delhi.
After completing class 12, Balakrishnan got a medical seat through sports quota, but took up engineering instead, to concentrate more on swimming. His efforts bore fruit and he won the 100m and 200m backstroke events at the South Asian Games with record timings.
He was selected to represent India in the 2010 Commonwealth Games. He was widely believed to be a medal prospect. But. weeks before his participation, he was attacked by a group which many suspected to be his swimming rivals and suffered severe injuries. Despite the incident, he took part in CWG and the Asian Games the same year.