Hyderabad: It was a dream come true moment for the 26-year-old Gangadhar Mallesh, who has been named in the Indian kabaddi squad for the upcoming Asian Games. He was part of the Indian national camp on several occasions since 2014 but failed to make the cut. However, his hard work paid off when the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India announced the Asian Games squad on Sunday night.
The icing on the cake for the State fraternity was the appointment of Sanga Reddy’s L Srinivas Reddy as the coach of the Indian side. Srinivas Reddy was appointed as the Indian team coach that won the Kabaddi Masters in Dubai in June.
Mallesh, who hails from Thotapally in Husnabad from Karimnagar district, is the only from both Telugu speaking States to make it to the Indian national kabaddi team and Srinivas is the second person after E Prasada Rao, the Dronacharya from Visakhapatnam, from the region to coach the national side.
Speaking to Telangana Today after his selection, Mallesh said that he was over the moon when got the news. “Yes. I was a little nervous as I was not selected for the Indian side for the Kabaddi Masters in Dubai. I was part of the three training camps and this time I was pretty sure of my selection.
Though I didn’t make it to Dubai, I had a strong belief that I would be selected for the Asian Games. Now I am delighted. To be the only person from both the States and only person from south India to be part of the Asian Games is a great feeling,” he said.
Mallesh further said that he would dedicate his achievement to Telangana Kabaddi Association president Kasani Gyaneshwar Mudiraj and coach Srinivas Reddy. “They have been guiding me and they played a key role in my progress,” said Mallesh, who will be donning the Jaipur Pink Panters colours this Pro Kabaddi League.
“My dream is to win the gold medal with Indian team. For kabaddi, Asian Games is the highest level and winning a medal in these games will be our dream. Now that I can achieve that, I am very happy,” he added.
Coach Srinivas Reddy also said that it was the proudest moment of his career. “I failed to represent India in Asian Games but now I got a chance to do that as a coach. This is my dream. I am over the moon,” he said.
Talking about his target in the upcoming multi-nation event, he said, “Our target obviously is to win gold. This is the eighth time and we have gold on all previous occasions. The task by no means is easy. We have strong competition from Pakistan, South Korea, Iran and Bangladesh. But we are focused on the job,” he added.
The team will be assembled in Sonipat on July 15 for a camp that will likely to continue till the start of the Asian Games.