Skating on thin ice

Skating on thin ice

The boy, studying in Class VI here, has understandably sets his sight on winning the Olympic medal.  He has skated 115.60 metres under 60 SUVs and 184 metres below bars; and, in both the events, he has skated backwards too.

Tirupati: Gandupalli Devisri Prasad, a limbo skating whiz kid who has zipped into the Guinness World Records with four major accomplishments and has won a string of other prestigious awards, is of course hungry for further achievements, but unfortunately his middle-class family cannot afford the nutritious diet regimen that experts have recommended for him and currently there is no appropriate rink for him to make the cut.

The boy, studying in Class VI here, has understandably sets his sight on winning the Olympic medal. He has skated 115.60 metres under 60 SUVs and 184 metres below bars; and, in both the events, he has skated backwards too. He has won three gold medals in ‘Open International Inline Skating’, apart from five gold and three silver national medals. At an event conducted by the Kaiga Roller Skating Club of Karnataka in 2014, he set the record for “longest nonstop limbo skating” at 6 hours.

At the tender age of eight years, he was conferred a doctorate in view of his amazing world records by the International University of Higher Martial Arts Education, USA. He was honoured with ‘Extraordinary Performer of 2016’ award for limbo skating forward and backwards under 53 cars and 113 bars of 8.25 inches by Online World Records on November 1, 2016. And, the list goes on…

The amazing string of achievements did not come just like that for Devisri Prasad. Years of hard work, coupled with total dedication and exacting discipline, has made him what he is now. His parents, Lokanatham and Padma, have every reason to be proud of the accomplishments of their kid. Their own patience needs a special mention.

As a retired employee, Lokanatham gets Rs.23, 000 per month as pension. He needs to spend at least more than half of that amount on Devisri just to give him somewhat nutritious food and provide him with amenities required for his daily practice. He has even arranged a gym at their small house, located in a narrow street, for Devisri’s exercises. The parents take their son to the SV University campus for skating practice.

The mother of Devisri, along with her sister, must sweep road length of 250 meters daily to make it clean. They set the bars with much patience. After practice, they must remove all those and take them back home. Devisri Prasad has had no formal coach at any stage. His father says: “I download some skating videos from the internet and show them to Devi. By seeing them once, he will learn and do it. He is practicing like ‘Ekalavya’. Even in education he is very sharp. His memory power is high”.

It was in 2012 that he first tied skates. It happened when he was taken for swimming, since he showed deep interest in skating. At home, he used to move about in small rooms on skating shoes right from the age of 5 years.

At every stage, the parents faced many obstacles, most of them man-made. Miscreants once stole all the equipment at their gym. On some occasions, post-competition results were manipulated, they claim. Besides, it is an uphill task for them to take him to some of the events conducted elsewhere.

For the feat that saw him enter the Guinness World Records, the Government of Andhra Pradesh had paid the required fee of Rs.16.90 lakh. Ramakrishna Housing Private Limited had laid a 200-meter track, costing Rs.11 lakhs. Renault company had provided 60 SUVs for the feat. But for these largesse, the boy could not have completed the feat.

After he set four Guinness World Records, AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu gave him Rs 10 lakh as prize money. Considering his zeal now to win gold in the 2024 Olympics, Devi’s parents took him to Pune-based eminent nutritionist Aradhana Sharma, who has been giving dietary advice inter alia to badminton star PV Sindhu. She suggested a dietary plan for him to be fit for the Olympics. “But, that is so costly. Without financial help, it is very difficult to provide that diet”, says his mother Padma.

Riveted to his goal, Devi’s refrain is: “I must win Olympic medal”. His father, equally confident, adds: “He needs 200-metre track of international standards. If such rink is provided in Tirupati, Devi will get Olympic medal for India. That rink will also help many others”.

The family is looking for a sponsor to provide financial assistance for his travel, required diet, rink and other facilities. The warm-up and warm-down equipment is also essential. These things are non-negotiable and costly by their standards. On the academic front, surprisingly, Devi’s parents want to see him as an IAS officer.

By V Pradeep Kumar

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