Swimmer Adarsh Narayan's dream is to represent India at the 2016 Olympics.
When he was a little over six years, his parents encouraged him to start swimming. But, a decade later, Adarsh Narayan has turned his favourite pastime into a career. “Swimming came naturally to me. Once I discovered I was good at it, I didn't want to stop,” he says. Late last year, Delphi-TVS awarded him the Excellence in National-level Swimming title.
This promising swimmer from Tamil Nadu is just 15 but has already made a name for himself. At the 38th Junior National Aquatic Championship in Bhopal last year, he won four gold and three silver medals in freestyle, butterfly and relay. In 2005, he was awarded the ‘Best swimmer of the Year' at the Tamil Nadu Aquatic Association event. On the international circuit, he took part at the 2006 Indo-Sri Lankan swimming meet held in Chennai and won the individual championship title.
A Std. IX student of Lady Andal, Adarsh splits his time between pool, gym and the school. His day starts with a good three hours swimming session followed by gym and then it's time to hit the books. “His school has been extremely supportive of his swimming career, and are very accommodating of his aspirations,” says K. L. Sasidharan, his father. As I chat with the doting parents, his brother Aditya Naryan walks in, adding to the praises, “He is very determined and focussed, he keeps a good balance and even now makes time for his friends,” says Aditya.
Previously he was studying at Velammal School, were he was awarded full scholarship by the correspondent of the school, Velmohan, who even now makes sure he puts a banner of Adarsh out at the gates of the school every time he makes a new record.
Encouragement is crucial for young sportspersons to feel inspired and motivated. A nudge in the right direction can transform the life a child. “Parents have a huge responsibility on themselves to let their children explore their talents. It may be difficult at first to really understand what your child wants to do. But, if you keep a keen eye out, you may find that you son or daughter wants to be in a completely different field from the one you imagined,” says, Kalyani Sasidharan, Adarsh's mother.
His parents took the counsel of Ryan Fernando, a sports nutritionist at Qua Health, identified Adarsh's physical prowess after an examination that included a DNA-test. “He came to me eight years back and we found his genetic-make perfect for athletics. It's important to identify sportspersons at a young age so that their nutritional needs can be met appropriately,” says Ryan, whose clients include Olympic medal winner Sushil Kumar.
Backed by the Chennai Corporation, he has been training under M. Muniyandi, an ex-commando and coach for the Chennai Corporation swimming team. “His dedication and support from his family have led him to becoming a competitive swimmer. We intend to send him to qualify for the 2016 World Olympics,” says Muniyandi.
He is now planning to take part in the seventh Asian age-group swimming competition to be held in Indonesia. However like most young athletes, finances pose a threat. “Swimming is an expensive sport but we have tried to give Adarsh the best and hope to continue to do so with good sponsors coming on board,” says his proud father.
“I know I am young and there is a long way to go, but I want to represent India at the Olympics some day and I will keep trying till I reach that goal,” he signs off.