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UK-based Indian-origin marathoner saddened to see sedentary lifestyle of young India

Ashok Kumar, who hails from Kerala, says India will have to go a long way to get itself fit.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2017 15:40 IST
Ramesh Babu K C
Ramesh Babu K C
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
London marathon,Chicago,New York
58-year-old Ashok Kumar is an Indian-origin long-distance runner based in London. (HT Photo )

He started long-distance running at the age of 54. In next three years he participated in all six major marathons of the world and now at 58, Ashok Kumar is getting ready for Athens where the long distance run originated.

The Indian-origin Briton might have hit the tracks late, but with his life’s example he wants to convey a message to youngsters that there is always something one can do for oneself and others, and age is no bar.

“Often we struggle to find reasons for not doing anything. You can’t cite lack of time as an excuse for not doing anything. If you have the will and attitude everything is possible,” said Kumar, an active charity worker, who works as inspector of taxes in UK.

He is currently on vacation to his native village in south Kerala’s Kollam district.

For youngsters in India, he has a word of caution. He is saddened to see how the world’s youngest nation with 51.8% population below 35 years of age is lagging behind on fitness.

“Sedentary lifestyle is fast catching up with the youth and lifestyle diseases are going up here. We have to check this immediately. Sport, especially running, is an antidote to this, he said, adding: “The youngest nation will have to go a long way to get itself fit.”

Associated with charity works world over, Kumar is now concentrating mainly on fight against hunger.

“At least three million children die every year across the globe due to hunger and malnutrition. In Britain we say even a pound will save a baby. I blend my charity and sport well and it gives me immense pleasure,” he told HT.

In the first marathon, he participated in 2014 in London, he got 8000 pounds. He utilised the entire amount for the welfare of disabled children in Ethiopia. He says now he lost the count of money he contributed for charity.

Ask him how he became a long distance runner and his eyes light up with excitement.

He landed in London 38 years ago, he recalled. Since then he had been watching London marathon feverishly.

“Fire was there in me. But due to busy domestic engagements, I couldn’t pursue my first love. But when I settled, I thought it is time to dust off my childhood ambition and take a deep plunge,” explained the father of two.

His best in six majors (London, Berlin, New York, Boston, Chicago and Tokyo) he participated is 4 hours and 48 minutes in London marathon. The official marathon distance is 42.2 kms.

“First of all it is very difficult to get a place in majors. Once selected you have to undergo rigorous training. I have finished all six major in just two and a half years,” he said adding among the majors, Chicago was most difficult. “Temperature was 25 degrees Celsius and there were many ups and lows on the road. I really struggled but my determination paid off,” he said.

First Published: Dec 23, 2017 10:59 IST