SPIRIT OF INDIA – SOCIETY
He is the Dronacharya of distance runners. Having shed the olive green fatigues of an infantry regiment havildar in 1996, he is honing the skills of bubbling youth, turning would-be layabouts into possible winners.
His talent of spotting champions does not as yet rival the legendary Olympian Kipchoge Keino. Nor are his protégés, as yet, of the calibre of the tenacious alltime-great Ethiopian Abebe Bikila or his compatriot, the current world marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie.
But, atop the semi-arid Deccan plateau, in the RSCS Sainiki Vidyalaya in nondescript Sagroli, deep in the highlands of Nanded, Maharashtra, Bhagwan Nagargoje, 49, toils hard to achieve that elusive Indian goal-a gold medal winning Olympian in the star of all contests, the track and field.
Nagargoje is helping a generation of determined children, from orphans to juvenile home boarders, run to victory. “They have a fire in the belly, more space in their lungs and tougher fibre in their calves to run with determination,” he says.