P Naganathan, a police constable from Chennai dreamed to become a professional runner. In his early days, he would train barefoot and work as a construction labourer to support his family financially. Today, Naganathan is one of the four people to represent India in the 4*400 relay at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Naganathan began competing in races while he was in school. Since he could not afford shoes, he had to run barefoot. After getting selected for the district sports meet, his school gifted him a pair of shoes.
Naganathan is one of the four children of Pandi, a farmhand, and Panchavarnam. Since he could not afford the cost of engineering, he studied BA History in college. He told New Indian Express, “I used to work part time to cover college fees. At the end of the semester, my fees would be reimbursed considering my performance in sports."
Naganathan entered the police force as an Armed Reserve Constable on sports quota in 2017. People started noticing him two years later after he won the gold at the All India Police Meet. He also won the CM’s trophy at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium later that year.
Naganathan participated in the Federation Cup in Patiala in February and came second following which, he was invited to be part of the Indian team and was selected after 45 days of training.
Naganathan will now be participating in the 4*400 relay with Mohammed Anas from Kerala, Amose Jacob from Delhi and Arokiyaraj from Trichy. Naganathan told New Indian Express, “Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would get an opportunity to participate in the Olympics. I owe much of my success to my police coach Prabhakaran, the Chennai Police Sports Incharge, and sub-inspectors Paul Dominic and Sivalingam."
Due to a surge in Covid-19 cases, Tokyo Olympics will be held under a state of emergency in Japan without spectators from July 23 to August 8. IOA President Narinder Batra said last week that the first batch of India’s Olympic-bound athletes will depart for Tokyo on July 17.