On a gleaming afternoon in his one bedroom apartment at Mumbai, Siddhanth Thingalaya frantically looks at all the forms for his Visa and shooting emails to the Athletics Federation of India, just in case he is accepted for the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast, Australia. More often than not, he ends up going through the same process of frantic and helter-skelter before any major event outdoors.
As numerous athletes in India, Siddhanth hails from a middle-class family. Both his parents worked as banking Officers with his Dad now retired. His joy for sports started with football playing central midfield which involved rigorous running.
This, in turn, played a significant part in building his foundation with an increased appetite for running and overall physique. On his coach’s advice, he stuck to sprinting and started participating in various Inter-School competitions, only to win all of them.
All their savings have gone into my training and that isn’t right because they don’t enjoy their life.
He recalls during a summer camp, ‘I turned up for running with slippers and football shorts whereas all other students already were in proper gear. But I was never worried about that because I knew I had the speed to outpace them’ And he did. This early realization of his talent by him and his parents is what kick-started his sprinting career.
Siddhanth isn’t an archetypical guy. He stands 6’3 tall and well built. He is a disciplined Mama’s boy yet vivacious at times. By 2010 Siddhanth was still juggling between studies and sports, realized that doing something in sports would be more of an achievement than just having passed out with academics.
He did a training stint in Australia under Mittal Champions Trust and had participated at South Africa under the Mittal Champions Trust and clocked 14.31 seconds at the high altitude Potchefstroom in March 2010.
A few months later, he went on to win the silver medal in the Asian Junior Meet in Hanoi, Vietnam, clocking a personal best 13.96 seconds (99.0 cm hurdles), while setting a new Indian Junior record. He competed for India in the 2010 World Junior Championships, missing qualifying for the semi-finals by .03 in his heat running 14.09.
‘Breaking the junior national record by clocking 13.89 then gave me a sign that I need to work on becoming a professional. Now I had to learn to be a better hurdler. I used to read books and research over videos and try to pick something up. I still do that’
‘I never knew what a Trail Leg clearance and Lead Leg clearance was. The only clearance I knew was to jump over the hurdle in front of me,’ he laughs, ‘All I had to myself was my gut to back me up and all the patterns etched in my muscle memory. Till 2014 and even in the Commonwealth Games, I used to run with a bit of rawness in me. No coach, no technique, just my intuition and the desire to run’
However, Siddhanth eventually came across a boiling problem. His timings weren’t getting any better. ‘I wasn’t doing a sub 13.85. It was always near or around it. I didn’t feel good at that time. Started to lose hope.’ After feeling stagnant with his timings and being in a plateau state for a long time without any improvements, Siddhanth was introduced to Gary Cabalayan through a friend of DeSean Jackson.