The Phnom Penh Post’s chief sports writer Hirisave Srikantaiah “HS” Manjunath passed away on Monday morning following complications after hurting himself falling while covering a story. He was 64.
While at the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon in Siem Reap, Manjunath slipped and fell in his hotel, breaking his ankle. Having had a recent history of heart problems and diabetes, the fractures put increased pressure on his weakened system and he later succumbed to the complications from the injury. An official cause of death has yet to be released.
The third child of father HS Srikantaiah and mother S Jayamma, he was born in Bangalore, India in February 1954. He was known to speak fondly of playing cricket outside his family home and would later become renowned for his reporting of the sport.
He was also an accomplished chess player, finishing runner-up in a national junior championship in his teenage years.
A keen tennis player, Manjunath will be remembered for his passionate promotion of local athletes and sports federations, both in India and his adopted home of Cambodia.
One of his favourite sayings was: “You need to a be good sport in all of your life. Even if you have lost, life is just like sport: handle failures in life like a good sportsman; in victory, don’t feel overjoyed either. Take everything in your stride.”
Manjunath began his career as a sportscaster in India, commentating on horse races over a loudspeaker. He would practise this in the shower, and an old lady with hearing problems next door would mistake it for him reciting the Vishnu Sahasranama, one of the most sacred mantras in Hinduism. She commended him on the quality of his recitation. He never corrected her.
Manjunath got his big break covering sport at the Deccan Herald English-language daily newspaper. He was to become well known for his articles on cricket, especially the Indian national team, football, tennis and horseracing.
He moved from the Deccan Herald to national daily the Hindu, before moving to Cambodia in 2008, where he began working for The Post. He quickly established himself with his reporting and support of the local sports scene.
Over the years, he developed a close relationship with the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and Tennis Cambodia.
“He did a lot, not only by educating people [on Cambodian sport] through his stories but also by living it,” said Tennis Cambodia technical director Phalkun Mam. "He loved sport, which I think made it easier for him.”
He is survived by two nieces in Bangalore, Ambika Mayasandra Gunurao and Aparna Mayasandra Gunurao.
Ambika recalls some sage advice her uncle once gave her: “Do your best, follow your arrow and make something amazing of your life – and never stop smiling.”