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CXOs in Sports: Interview with Venkatesh Valluri, Chairman and President, Ingersoll Rand, India region

  • CXOs in Sports: Interview with Venkatesh Valluri, Chairman and President, Ingersoll Rand, India region
Vinay Sundar
Modified 09 Jun 2014, 13:26 IST
Venkatesh Valluri

Sportskeeda brings another exciting series of interviews – CXOs in Sports, where we speak to eminent and prominent personalities, talking about their sporting interests and ideas for development of sports in general and of their sports work/interest in particular.

Venkatesh Valluri is the Chairman and President, Ingersoll Rand, India region. He is a regular long distance runner and has a keen interest in sports. We caught up with him recently and had a chat about his interests in sports and his opinion the current state and future of sports in India.

1. How did you develop an interest in sports? Which sports do you follow?

I come from an army background, so I lived in different places, and had the opportunity to play many sports. During my childhood I would play many games and that is how I 

developed a penchant for outdoor activities and sports. I am not an ardent follower (in terms of detail) of any one sport, but I do follow Hockey, Football, Badminton, Squash, and 

Cricket. I do play many games but my favourites are Squash, Badminton and Hockey.

2. When did you start running? How often do you get the time to run?

I was never much of a runner. I started running probably around 2006, when I gave the Delhi half marathon a shot. It started off as an organizational leadership message to let the 

employees know that physical fitness and health was very important in their daily working lives - I sort of forced the leadership team to come along and run with me. We had initially planned to run a small distance (~7 kms). We started practising at 6.30 am in a park in Gurgaon (about 12-15 leaders of the Organization). Finally, I ended up running the half Marathon for the first time. It was a good feeling.


I now run 3-4 times a week (12-15 kms each time). It has now become a habit and it is a great energizer.

3. Who is your favourite sportsperson, and why?

I don't have anyone in particular that I look up to as a role model, but I admire graceful sportspersons .Prakash Padukone is an all-time favourite for the grace and poise with which he used to play Badminton.

4. How has sports impacted your life? What do you think needs to be done so that Sports apart from Cricket can grow consistently in India?

As you get into the corporate world and get into larger leadership roles, it is important to stay physically fit and energized, if not, it becomes a drag. Sports and physical exercise 

work very positively – I look forward to at-least an hour of exercise (sports, running or yoga exercises) every day. It becomes a part of your life. Badminton is the most regular sport I play. Sometimes squash is equally exciting.

Cricket is big. It is advertised well and has a great charm for the youth to play the game. We need to do provide similar platforms for other games where more children can get to play and can embrace them easily. This is easier said than done but a conscious effort has to be made at the school levels.

5. What has your favourite sport taught you? 

Badminton as a game has been a great teacher. Both the formats i.e. Singles or Doubles teach you some very interesting lessons. Speed and Agility, Team work and assessing the opponent’s strength and strategizing to win are great mentoring sessions. You also get some valuable feedback when you lose that tells you how one has to improve and work hard to get back into the ring. These are lessons that can be applied directly in your daily working life. 

6. What do you think can be done for growing the culture of sports in India?

We must inculcate a culture of competitive sports at the School level. Children start picking up sports at around the age of 5 and this continues till about the age of 18. Children 

need to be incentivized to play sports. They need to be rewarded for playing sports, maybe double the rewards as compared to excelling in academics alone.

The key is to get the younger generation to agree to take part in sports. The impact of creating a healthy society is much more valuable in the long run. We need to make the 

process robust so that it is sustainable.

7. Please share with us experiences related to your best sporting moments.

My three best experiences would be: 

The first is when I played the Inter University Badminton championships during my Engineering days. We never expected to win. We made it past the quarter finals for the first 

time and went on to win the semis. We lost the finals but there was a good lesson – prepare well and the opportunities will open up.

The second one was when we ran the Delhi Marathon for the first time. I never expected that I could run 21 Kms but finishing it was a great confidence booster. Post this run, I have participated in many full and half marathons. I completed the Bombay full Marathon last year and the Pondicherry Full Marathon run this year. 

The final one would be when I trekked at Khardungla, near Leh at a height of approximately 20000 feet for a week. It tests your physical stamina and fitness. The view of the  Himalayas was picture perfect and it was one of the most adventurous and memorable trips of my life till date. 

8. Any modern day sportsperson that you appreciate for his/ her qualities.

Saina Nehwal has come up very well, and I hope that she keeps her focus. Mary Kom came from a non-descript background and accomplished something really outstanding. People who come up the hard way are very passionate, work continuously, depend less on support systems and facilities and like to leave a mark behind for the greater good. The youth can use these examples for their own motivation.

9. What do you think of the future of sports in India?

We need a fundamental change in the thought process – the government needs to understand that infrastructure needs to be developed. Sports should be incentivized and 

made interesting for children – especially when they are at an impressionable age. 

We should able to create athletes who eventually become champions in their respective fields of sports.

10. A message or quote that you’d like to share with our readers

Life itself is a great sport. As we train for a sport, train well for life. Sport teaches you fairness and discipline. Apply them to life and be fair and disciplined. When a sport is played 

well, there is a feeling of exhilaration. Play life well as if it is a great sport and feel good about it – pace it as you get old – but let the exhilaration not come down – the winning

gleam you see in the eyes of a child when he/ she conquers a game is the same gleam you should have when you play life! Be healthy in mind and body!

Published 09 Jun 2014, 12:49 IST
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