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The 'Master' behind Anju Bobby George's jump start

Aug 11, 2007 08:29 AM IST India India
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Koruthode (Kerala): Anyone with even a little athletic ambition in Kerala has heard about Thomas Master and comes to him for a fresh start in their career. K P Thomas, an ex-athlete, mentor and coach lovingly known as Thomas Master, runs a sports school in Koruthode in Kottayam district. "During workouts he's strict. But otherwise, he's so cool,” says one of the students. The 63-year-old trains 170 young athletes all for free. There are very few times that the training is sponsored by local donors, otherwise its Master's own pension fund that is used. "Ninety per cent of the students are poor. Sports is their route to get good jobs. They see sports as their life's goal,” says Thomas. So with that survival skill, his students started winning every sports competition in the district. They soon reached the national level, and then even international. Long jump Olympian Anju Bobby George, sprinter Jincy Philips, and 800m double Asian Games gold medallist Shiny Wilson are all his students. There was also a point at which there were around 50 children who were living in his home. "These clippings are the national and international achievements of my children since 1979. They lived here and they stuck these on the wall. So that every morning, when I wake up and see this, I feel happy,” says Thomas. Since sports facilities aren't cheap or easy to come by, hills, streams and even slippery roads, become training ground for the students whose dreams are given a running start by Thomas. (Thomas Master can be contacted at: Kurinsinkal House, Koruthode PO, Mundakkayam, Kottayam. Ph No: 04828- 280373)