Dubai: It’s the wee hours of the morning, with most people still in bed. However, 16-year old Karthik Sarvanan — a grade 11 student at Gems Modern Academy, who recently qualified to run in European sports events — is busy training under the watchful eyes of his coach. His schedule is intense. He spends four hours training on the tracks — two hours before school and two hours between 2pm and 4pm for six days a week.
Training in France
So focused is he on his goals that the teenager has never even been to a party! It is such dedication and discipline that has helped this young Indian millennial in Dubai post commendable 11.03 seconds in 100 metres and 23.3 seconds in 200 metres, respectively.
Having made the cut for the European circuit, Karthik has his eyes set on sports events in Europe. He will be in France from next month for more rigorous training under an international coach. The licence, which is based on this performance and timing, will enable him to participate in athletic events in the European circuit from early 2022. His ultimate goal is to be able to qualify for the 2028 Olympics.
Running from the age of seven
The younger of two siblings, Karthik discovered his love for running while in Ghana as a seven-year old. “I was in grade three then and we moved to Ghana as my dad was posted there. The best pastime we indulged in with other kids of the neighbourhood was organising and participating in running competitions. I used to run with the other kids, mostly of African origin. Gradually, the targets got tougher, but I started getting better and was able to outpace the rest,” said Karthik.
Later, when his family moved to Chennai, India, Karthik’s parents — father P. Sarvanan and mother Jayalakshami — became aware of their son’s athletic streak and enrolled him under the watchful eyes of Dr Anand Natrajan, a former sprinter and coach from the Indian Sports Promotion Academy (ISPA). The training helped the young boy who competed in many under-16 running events in India.
Enhancing sprinting prowess
Success fanned his ambition and gave wings to his dreams. Soon, the family moved to Dubai. Karthik, who enrolled in grade 11 at the Gems Modern Academy, enhanced his sprinting prowess and decided to enter the European circuit. He was accepted this year.
Thrilled with having earned qualification to run in the European circuit, Karthik says it is determination, self-belief and discipline that have helped him improve his performance. “There is no trade secret to being a better athlete, except that I blindly trust my coach and follow his instructions. An aspirant must know what he or she can do or is capable to do and should be ready to do anything to achieve his or her objective.
Karthik’s parents have stood rock-solid behind him and he his thankful to his mother, in particular, for her unconditional support to him. “My mum has been constantly supporting me, while my dad always makes sure that I have the necessary finances to follow my passion.”
There is no trade secret to being a better athlete, except that I blindly trust my coach and follow his instructions. An aspirant must know what he or she can do or is capable to do and should be ready to do anything to achieve his or her objective."
Nutrition, technique and discipline
Karthik makes sure to pay attention to nutrition, technique and stays focused on his performance. “I make sure I have enough protein for my muscle growth and bone strength and carbohydrates for endurance and speed. As far as technique is concerned, which is very important, I focus on proper arm action, stride, length and endurance along with speed.”
Weight gain or loss can play a decisive part in enhancing or ruining an athlete’s performance. “Ideal weight for an athlete is 100 subtracted from his height in centimetres. Since I am 176cm tall, I need to hold my weight steady at 76kg for best results.”
‘Running is my passion’
“Athletes must concentrate during training so that we don’t injure ourselves. In case we do, it takes three-four weeks to recover. During that period, a lot of valuable training time is wasted,” said the young athlete who is very serious about being disciplined and staying committed to his love for running. “Sprinting is my passion and I hope to make a career out of it. I am also studying with the aim of becoming a mechanical engineer.”