t 16, Vir Menon says he’s working towards a goal that is set seven years from now: the 2020 Olympics. All that he does now, he knows, will gradually help him build skill, strength and stamina to be able to participate in the mother of all contests.
No one has ever represented India at the Olympics in sailing yet, points out the young sailor. He aspires to be the first to do so in a sport that he feels has not been given the recognition or attention it deserves. “My goal now is to win as many World Championship titles as I can and then my dream is to win in the Olympics. I want to bring home a medal for my country in this sport,” he says, with conviction.
Just last month, at the under-18 category at the Laser National Championship 2013 in Hyderabad, he struck gold. His long list of sailing achievements start with a simple ride on a wooden boat in 2004, he says. Speaking about how he came to love this rather unconventional sport, he says that he was introduced to the sport by his father. “Even since I first took to the waters in my wooden boat, I knew this is my calling. I went on to become stronger and fight harder to reach a higher level,” he says.
Vir still practices in India, but receives core training in Hong Kong and Malaysia under Coach Marek Jackowski, who lives in Hong Kong. “I have been training under Marek since 2009. Ever since then, I have been given rigorous training two weeks before any event that helps me strategise to reach the next destination.”
The young lad adds that he couldn't have done it without his coach, and the support of his many friends at the Inventure Academy, his school.
Vir participated in his first championship in 2006. By 2012, he was steadily winning most contests including the ‘Optimist’ prize at the National Sailing Selection Regatta (NSSR) 2012, a recognition that he calls “astounding”.
In January 2013, he leapt forward by winning a gold in the International World Championship Regatta held at Langkawi in Malaysia. He represented India at the Maclaren 2012 Laser 4.7 World Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he became the first Indian to qualify into the Gold Fleet Laser 4.7 World Championship. Being the youngest in the Gold Fleet, he says, made him immensely proud.
Even since I first took to the waters in my wooden boat, I knew this is my calling