Hyderabad: The game of roller skating has been an underrated sport in the country for long. But after Anup Kumar Yama, the only medal winner for the country at various international events, was awarded the prestigious Arjuna award in 2015, the game’s stature has been on the rise.
The 32-year-old Hyderabadi has been on a mission to make the beautiful game more popular. Having taken to the game at a tender age of three-and-half years because of his father, he went on to create history by becoming the only Indian to win medals at the World Championships. He first won a bronze medal at the Inline Artistic Skating World Championship in New Zealand in 2012. The next year, he bettered his record by winning a gold in the Inline Artistic Roller Skating World Championship in Taipei.
However, he got his due share in 2015 when he was awarded the prestigious Arjuna for his exploits. With more than 80 medals each in the national and state level competitions and five silver and nine bronze medals at Asian level – including two bronze medals at 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games in Pairs Skating and Men’s Singles Free Skating – adding to his World Championship medals, there is no exaggeration in saying that he is the sole flag bearer of India on the international arena.
He felt that the game was getting its due recognition now and hopes to see the game in prominence in near future. “The game is improving slowly in the city with parents and schools encouraging the kids. A lot of awareness is being created in schools about the game,” he said.
However, he felt that lack of infrastructure is the major hindrance for the game in the State.
“Frankly speaking, we have no support from the government. No facilities and no infrastructure for the game in the city. This is the big hindrance for the game. Children are practising on roller skates and going on to ice skates after a week’s training. Despite that, our skaters (from his academy Yama Skating Academy which was started in 2010) are doing great. They won many medals at the national competitions recently. If we have an ice rink in Hyderabad, we can do much more and can win medals for the country on the international arena as well,” he pointed out.
He also added that the Arjuna award has brought the game into the limelight. “Before my Arjuna award when I won the gold medal at the World Championship, the whole world knew that but in India even my neighbour doesn’t know. But after getting the Arjuna award, the sport is gaining a lot of popularity. People started recognising me,” he added.
He further added that he was willing to put in efforts to train coaches who would in turn train more kids. “The lack of qualified coaching is also a big problem. But once we have facilities, I will personally look into it and am ready to give personal training to the coaches. I will take them to different tournaments and conduct seminars,” he concluded.