94 year old Navy veteran Cdr. Sreeramulu, hailing from Visakhapatnam, won gold at the World Masters Athletics Championship being held in Perth. He won the race walk event in the age group of 90-95 years and is also participating in the 10 KM and 20 KM walks this week.
Yo! Vizag had the honour of interacting with Cdr. Sreeramulu and having him on our cover for the July – August 2015 issue.
The Master Blaster Sachin retired from cricket at the ‘ripe’ age of 40… while a a 90+ athlete from Vizag picked up yet another international medal. Beating the stereotyped ‘old or retired’ image, this veteran sportsperson is not only physically active, but is busy earning medals nationally and internationally; while the government, general public and most of the media are blissfully unaware of his achievements. With a never-say-die attitude, he is committed to the athletic lifestyles with gusto that belies his age.
It’s a calm afternoon at Cdr. Sreeramulu’s house. He says that he can spare only till 5PM as the match of Andy Murray vs. Roger Federer is about to begin. He puts on his hearing aid, and as we sit down you can’t help but wonder. How can a man this old be participating in a race? But when he shares that his last race at Goa, in April 2015 won him gold at the national level and that he’s preparing for the World Masters Championship to be held in August at Lyons, France, one is rendered speechless.
Age definitely is a matter of the mind and Cdr. Sreeramulu is a true example that the numbers don’t matter. Having reached 93, when people recline in their chairs to relax, he’s literally up and running. Off for a brisk morning walk at 4:00AM, he shares with us that ‘The Beach Road is Vizag’s best gift.’ It surely helps him prepare for the 5km to 20km athletic races he participates in.
An active sailor for over 36 years with the Navy, he shares that he used to go sailing almost every evening during those days. A love for yachting grew naturally, and he participated in many national and international events back then. But post retirement, opportunities for yachting reduced, and he started going for long health-walks along the Beach Road. For opportunists, the closure of one door means the opening of another. And here too, opportunity knocked when during one of his morning walks, he was introduced to the District Veterans Athletics Championships. ‘Events here are conducted for people over 35, and are held in five-year age brackets. I participated in athletics at the age of 70 and won the gold.’ From there it was no looking back for Cdr. Sreeramulu, who won gold not only at district level, but also at state and national levels too. ‘I’ve been the winner in my age group since the past seven years’ he shares. He participated in three Asian championship events, the latest being at Kuala Lumpur (2010), and the world event at Sacramento where he won a gold in 20km walk race and silvers in 5km and 10km respectively.
With over 50 medals displayed in a showcase, he shares that these are just half of them. He stresses on the importance of exercise and says that ‘Our body muscles need exercise more than they need food.’ Speaking of challenges he shares that ‘Unfortunately sportsmanship is not in our culture. Sports for veterans don’t receive much support. But the government must realize that by encouraging veteran sports, they encourage health for people across age groups.’
His every day routine comprises of an early morning walk for 10kms, light breakfast, light lunch and a glass of buttermilk or orange juice for dinner. Having stopped eating dinner since the past 45 yrs, he says that ‘Divide the stomach into four parts, fill two parts with food, one with water and leave the remaining empty. However, to get up from the table when you’re half full is the biggest challenge. Gandhiji would also say that before you put a morsel into your mouth, look at it and ask yourself thrice, ‘Does my body need it’ and only then eat it.’
Energetic and lively, Cdr. Sreeramulu leads by example, with his wife Satyawati and children being his support system. It is thus no wonder that today he is the Hon’ble President of the Visakha Walkers Association. ‘When I walk in the mornings along the Beach Road, many people look at me, perhaps wondering how come this old man is walking so fast.’
But, along with wondering, we are sure that many are inspired as well: Inspired to choose a healthy way of life, to believe that there’s no age for retirement and no limit to living each day to its fullest.