Early athletics

Chinmoy1: Star Athlete of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Compiled by Vidagdha

 

Classic Photographs2

 

 
 
1. The Races: Sprints, relays,
middle distance, hurdles
  2. The Jumps: High jump, pole vault   3. The Throws: Shot put

 

 

 
 
 
  4. Awards: Decathlon champion   5. The Captains  

 

 

 

1. The Sprints

 

Chinmoy in the starting position. His bare feet and the pitted road surface were typical of many of his races.

 

 

100 metres: Chinmoy’s classic sprinting form. He won this event for 16 consecutive years. Here he is running on the Ashram’s cinder track that was opened by the Mother on July 1st, 1951.

 

Chinmoy crossing the finishing line in first place in the 100-metre sprint.3 (July/August, 1959)

 

Chinmoy [far right] at the start of a 400-metre event. On the far left is his German coach Saumitra [Werner Haubrich4]. (July/August 1958)

 

Chinmoy [second from left] prepares to run the anchor leg in a 4x100-metre relay. Although starting considerably behind the rest of the field, he was able to win the race for his team. (July/August 1957)

 

The start of a senior men's sprint in 1958. Chinmoy, aged nineteen, is second from the right; Manoj Das Gupta is on the far right.

 

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

The start of a middle distance race. Chinmoy (second from the inside lane) is in prime position for a fast start.

 

Chinmoy [far right] during a close 100-metre hurdles race (July/August 1959). On the far left is Manoj Das Gupta, presently the Managing Trustee of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

 

 

2.  The Jumps

 

High Jump: Chinmoy is using the older style Western roll.5 The landing pit consists merely of sand, unlike the thick mattresses in use today. (July/August 1958)

 

 

Chinmoy soars over the bar in the pole vault the 1952 Sports Day completion. (23rd July, 5 p.m.)

 

Pole vault: Chinmoy leaps well clear of the bar. He is using a bamboo pole and bare feet.6 Note the absence of any cushioning to break the fall. (August/September 1960)

 

 

3. The Throws

 

Shot Put: Chinmoy’s tremendous leg and arm-power are revealed in his ready stance. The figure of the Mother in the background has been enlarged and superimposed on the photograph. She would attend all the Sports Days with great enthusiasm and present the awards to the champions on the day.

 

Shot Put: This dramatic photograph from 1952 captures the exact moment when Chinmoy releases the shot. The Mother is seated in the background.7

 

 

4. The Awards

 

Chinmoy receives his decathlon award from the Mother, September 5th, 1959. This photograph reveals the Mother’s exquisite smile for the Ashram’s star athlete. The decathlon event was first introduced in the Ashram during the 1956 athletics season.

 

This is the original of the previous photo and has much clearer definition. At a certain point in the 1970’s, the background was blocked out by taping white photographic paper over it.

 

Chinmoy poses with his athletic awards on Sports Day.

 

Chinmoy poses with several Champion’s Cups.8

 

 

5  J.S.A.S.A. Captains Sri Aurobindo Ashram 1961

 

Sri Aurobindo Ashram – 1961

This group photograph from 1961 includes the captains of all the different sports and divisions within the Department of Physical Education of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, more commonly known as J.S.A.S.A. – ‘Jeunesse Sportive de l’Ashram de Sri Aurobindo’. Chinmoy, aged 29, is in the top row, fourth from the right. He was the captain of the men’s football and volleyball teams. In the centre, in white, is Pranab Bhattacharya, who founded the Department at the express wish of the Mother in 1945 and, at the time of this writing 64 years later, is still directing it.

 

Endnotes:
1 Throughout this text, Sri Chinmoy is referred to as ‘Chinmoy’, the name by which he was known during his Ashram days.

2 These are the only photographs that have emerged to date. More may yet be uncovered that show Chinmoy’s other major events: javelin, discus, hammer, long jump and hop, skip and jump.
3 In 1974, Chinmoy’s classic sprinting profile from this photograph was reproduced on the cover of his book The Goal is Won.
4 “As a result of a request to the Federal German Republic at Bonn, they have sent us a highly qualified Physical Educator to give our members a three months course. The instructor, Mr. Werner Haubrich is from the Sporthochschule of Koln and holds a diploma of the institute in Physical Education. He is not only an able theoretician, but is at the same time a fine sportsman particularly in Athletics and Swimming. In sprinting and hurdling his records are very impressive being 10.9 seconds for 100 metres, 22.2 seconds for 200 metres, 50.2 seconds for 400 metres and 25.3 seconds for 200 metres hurdles. He has already completed his course of swimming lessons for the instructors class and he is now holding classes in athletics.” – Sri Aurobindo Ashram Bulletin of Physical Education, Nov. 1958.
5 The Fosbury Flop was not introduced until 1968.
6 One year, during competition, Chinmoy’s bamboo pole snapped as he took off, causing him to fall heavily.
7 Seated to the right of the Mother is Udar, who acted as timekeeper and umpire for the events. A former aeronautical engineer, he also manufactured much of the equipment at his Harpagon workshop.
8 Sri Chinmoy told us that he put on spikes especially for this photograph, but they did not fit properly and so he did not wear them during competition. From the slight alterations in his appearance, it seems that these awards photographs may have been taken in different years. He maintained a bodyweight of 131 pounds (59.42 kilos) throughout his competition years.