Age has never been a deterrent for KC Sreenivasan, a reigning powerlifting champion and national record holder from Kerala. The 68-year-old who forayed into the big bad world of powerlifting after he became a 'senior citizen' has won over 21 medals, mostly gold, from national, state and district level competitions in India. But Sreenivasan's dreams of breaking international records has a hit a roadblock now, as he lacks the funds to travel abroad and compete globally.
"I had approached the Kerala government for financial support, but they said they do not sponsor Masters participants. Masters are those participants who are 40 or above. I belong to the M3 category which is above 60 years of age," Sreenivasan tells TNM.
It was in 2011, at age 60, that Sreenivasan first registered for a powerlifting championship in Chadrapur, Maharashtra. Prior to that, he had been a bodybuilder for the last 50 years and had won several competitions and championships in the country.
"I had started bodybuilding when I was 19. Fifty years later, powerlifting just seemed as a natural evolution as I had the strength from bodybuilding," he says.
Sreenivasan bagged the 4th place in the championship held at Chadrapur. The was the start of a highly successful career in powerlifting with several championship medals and multiple selections for international competitions, none of which he could attend.
In 2017, Sreenivasan won three golds consecutively, at the Classic Asian Championships held in Alappuzha. The medals were for 59 kg bench press, squats and deadlifting categories.
"If you win three gold medals, then you are eligible for a 4th, championship medal. This championship contest will be held in Hong Kong in April 2019. I am selected for this, but I do not have adequate funds to go and participate," Sreenivasan says. The 68-year-old has had to miss championships at Canada, Dubai and South Africa in the recent years as he could not mobilise funds.
"I have been referred to as 'man with the strength of an elephantâ€™ and the 'physique of a 36-year-old' in newspaper reports and by people. But I have always had to stop short of winning a medal for India, as I have never been able to travel to participate in these contests," he says.
With the Hong Kong championships looming closer, Sreenivasan is attempting to mobilise funds so that this time, he can participate in an international championship for once in his 8-year-long career.
"There is an entry fee of Rs 60,000. And I have to book the tickets. Totally the expenses come up to Rs 1.58 lakh and I have to mobilise this before April," he says.
Kerala State Sports Council (KSSC) had declined to extend financial help to Sreenivasan as the department does not have funds allocated for Masters class. President of KSSC, TP Dasan, stated that, though the department wished to promote participants in the Masters category, there were no rules currently in the state to provide grants for them to contest in events.