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All set to make it big

"I worked very hard for it," says Arunachalam about winning his first Mr. Tamil Nadu title in the Open State Body Building Championship held in Chennai recently.



K. Arunachalam. Pic by S. Thanthoni.

HAVING CLINCHED his maiden Mr. Tamil Nadu title in the Open State Body Building Championship in Chennai recently, 30-year-old K. Arunachalam is a happy man. "I worked very hard for it. I am happy that I was able to win despite stiff competition." He won the first place in the 75 kg weight category for the first time.

Arunachalam is no newcomer to the sport, having won the District championship representing Chennai 12 times, and finishing runner-up on five occasions. A Health Club in-charge of the Country Club, R.A. Puram. Arunachalam got interested in the sport when he was in the vegetable selling business, in 1994-95. He used to watch films of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone during spare time. "I used to wonder how come they were so fit." That was when he met Sampath, owner of Mohan Gym at Doveton, and thus began his initial lessons. Arunachalam could have made some headway then but for his economic background.

Four hours of practice in the morning and four hours in the evening at the gym helped him build his physique. "It is important to work hard, take enough rest, and have a proper diet to succeed in body building," says Arunachalam.

All he got for winning the State championship was a shield, a cup and certificates. No prize money. A well-meaning Arunachalam says, more often than not, the organisers, citing lack of sponsorship, do not give prize money. "It would be better if they give prize money consistently, for we spend a lot on the fitness regimen," he says. He smilingly shows a photograph of himself holding a bicycle — a gift for winning a district tournament — aloft.

Body-building is a sport that is believed to have strong links with doping, and Arunachalam does not shy away from the topic. "But then the organisers should make sure that they conduct tests in the smaller tournaments." It is easier for them that way, he argues, to weed out the unwanted elements at that stage itself, instead of catching them during big tournaments, when it is too late in a person's career. But at the same time, Arunachalam says that the sport is attracting crowds, thanks to the support and enthusiasm shown by the local association.

With no official sponsor but with guidance and financial assistance from the Country Club, Arunachalam has started preparing earnestly for the Federation Cup and the State Open Amateur Championship (in Madurai) slated for sometime later this year. He is confident of winning medals.

K. KEERTHIVASAN

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