Bengaluru, Aug 17: After several years of toil on a tennis court despite the pressures of being a police officer, BNS Reddy succeeded in making India proud when he won gold at 2015 World Police and Fire Games in the United States last month.
A fan of Grand Slam record holder Roger Federer of Switzerland, Reddy said he never thought of becoming only the 2nd Indian to capture gold at the prestigious Games.
In front of over 12,000 athletes, Reddy provided India the golden moment by winning the Men's Singles 55 event.
In an exclusive interview to OneIndia, Bengaluru city's Inspector General of Police and Additional Commissioner of Police (Administration) Reddy, who was last week awarded the President's police medal on the occasion of 69th Independence Day, opens up on his passion for tennis, the gold in US, importance of sport and various other things.
Excerpts from the interview
Question: First of all congratulations on a fantastic achievement. Could you tell us how was your experience at the 2015 World Police and Fire Games?
Reddy: The Games were held in Fairfax County, Virginia state. I was not sure whether I will be able to participate in my event as there were issues with my American visa. However, at the last moment, I received a call from the Consulate General of the United States in Chennai and they were kind enough to allow Chennai police officials to collect my visa. I landed in the United States a day before the tennis tournament. It was a challenge for me to get used to the new conditions, change in time zones and also had to overcome jet lag. It was a special experience for me to have participated in these Games where more than 12,000 athletes were seen in action.
Q: How was the tournament and could you describe how you felt holding the gold medal?
Reddy: Australia's David Watson was my first opponent. I lost the opening set but I was determined to win and with the help of the Almighty I bounced back to take the next 2 sets (4-6, 6-2, 6-4). I kept winning and when I reached the final, I was happy that after having travelled so far I would at least get a silver medal. I never dreamed that I would defeat the top seed Bruce Barrios of USA (7-5, 7-6) and win the gold. It was a proud moment for me, as the first Kannadiga, to stand on the podium with my gold medal.
Q: How did you prepare for this tournament?
Reddy: Whether I am playing a tournament or not, I always practice on a daily basis. Everyday I play tennis for 1 and half hours. This has helped me to keep myself fit. As I play against different players here in Bengaluru, I did not train for the Games in the US specifically. My favourite shot is forehand and I always aim to keep improving that. The daily training in Bengaluru helped me win gold.
Q: How do you balance your profession as a police officer and playing tennis?
Reddy: For every person, whether it is in sport or any other profession - for me as police officer, the pressures are always there. Playing sports helps us handle pressure situations. Sports not only keeps our body fit but also helps to be happy in life, that is my simple policy.
Q: For how long have you been playing tennis and is there any other sport you follow or play?
Reddy: I have been playing tennis since my childhood days. Initially, I was attracted to cricket and played for sometime. I also tried my hand at billiards. Later I switched to tennis. Now, tennis is my favourite sport.
Q: Who is your role model in tennis?
Reddy: I have learnt playing tennis by watching many players. However, I like Roger Federer the most. He is a complete player. Many youngsters like Rafael Nadal. I accept that he is an aggressive player but in the long run it is not good in my opinion. Federer's style of play is different from Nadal. He has mastered the art of playing tennis. Even at 34, he is fit and is still a top-class athlete.
Q: What is your goal in tennis. Is there any particular tournament you want to win?
Reddy: There is no specific goal as of now. I want to keep playing tennis. I wanted to do well in national tournaments and I did it. Now I have managed to win at international stage and it gives me immense pleasure.
Q: Do you feel, in India, apart from cricket other sports have been neglected?
Reddy: I agree that cricket is the most popular sport in the country. But now kabaddi is getting a boost and so is hockey. I feel the government should promote all sports, not only one, for that to happen we need multi-purpose stadiums. We need to build infrastructure in all states where we can play 10 to 12 sports at one venue. Also, it is necessary to include sports in schools and colleges as part of the curriculum. There is science in all sports.
Q: Is the police department getting enough support for sports from the government?
Reddy: Police, Railways, Services all have been getting good support from the government. There have been several officers recruited in the police department through sports quota.
Q: Finally, is there any message you would like to give to youngsters?
Reddy: I would like to urge all youngsters to play some sport. It helps them to stay fit. A sportsperson inspires the entire family. Sport helps people stay calm, be confident all the time.
About World Police and Fire Games
# They are held every two years
# Over 12,000 from 70 countries participated in 60 plus sports this year
# "The World Police & Fire Games are a spectacular international sporting event, offering police officers, firefighters, customs and correction officers from around the world an opportunity to showcase their athletic excellence in over 65 sporting events," the Game's website said.
# Next edition in Canada in 2017