Ace Tamil Nadu swimmer and South Asian Games gold-medalist MB Balakrishnan died in a road accident in Chennai on Tuesday night. The 29-year-old was riding his bike along the EVR Salai at Arumbakkam when he fell under a mixer lorry, which ran over and killed him.
Balakrishnan was until recently working in software development in the United States and came back to India after his visa application was denied. Son of a doctor couple, he was an alumnus of Guindy Engineering College and he did his MS in the US and was working there. He was a former 50-metre national record holder. He went on to win the gold in the 50-metre backstroke and silver in the 100-metre backstroke event in the 11th South Asian Games in Dhaka in 2010. According to his friends, Balakrishhnan was an enthusiastic biker known to take long journeys on the two-wheeler occasionally.
The Anna Nagar traffic investigation wing which is handling the case told TNM that the case is currently registered as an accident. Balakrishnan was riding home in Jayalakshmi Colony, Shenoy Nagar with a female pillion.
"He tried to overtake the lorry and moved correctly but seems to have lost balance somehow. He fell before the lorry while his friend fell the other side. The front wheel of the lorry ran over his stomach. He died on the spot," says an officer involved in the case. "We have recovered the CCTV footage from the spot. It seems to have been a freak accident. It is regrettable," he added.
Friends and family mourn loss
The funeral for the 29-year-old was held at 3pm on Wednesday. Friends who have known Balakrishnan from their school days recall that he was a very talented student who shined in anything he took up.
"He was a champion in everything he took interest in. Never let negativity bog him down nor did he ever let people around him get knocked down," says Venkat Raman, a close friend of Balakrishnan. "He was so full of energy, optimism and truly a source of inspiration to everyone he knew," he adds.
Sneha Ramesh, another childhood friend of the swimmer says that despite his achievement he was extremely grounded.
"He was the life of any gathering and would always crack everyone up," she says. " He has been swimming from the age of three and has achieved so much but he has never had any airs about himself. He was an avid biker and it is unfortunate that he just came back to India and this happened."