Suyash Jadhav – Paralympic swimmer
“Don’t think of what you don’t have, think of what you have and work on it.”
A protégé of the legendary Prasanta Karmarkar, Suyash Jadhav was drawn to swimming from an early age, inspired by his father who was a national level swimmer. Even after tragedy struck and both his arms had to be amputated, Suyash never lost sight of his cherished dream of achieving big in the world of competitive swimming, and started competing in para events. And not before long, his grit and resolve started showing results.
All of 23 years, Suyash Jadhav was the only Indian para swimmer to have achieved the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the 2016 Rio Paralympics by virtue of his stellar performance at the 2015 IWAS World Games in Sochi, Russia, where he won a gold and a bronze. He bettered his own records at the Rio Paralympics. Competing in the S7 category, Suyash won four medals at the 2015 Winter Open Polish Championship, including a gold and silver, and retained top form at the 2016 German Swimming Championship winning three silver medals. At the recently concluded 2017 Para Nationals he won 4 golds and two silvers.
Suyash is destiny’s child. Long before that fateful day which changed the course of his life, his father and he knew in their hearts, that Suyash was destined for greater glory in swimming. Suyash’s is an inspirational story in the power of self-belief, and the transformative capacity of boundless determination. His success has set many a sporting heart aflame with ambition and drive in the deep dusty recesses of Maharashtra, as also in our vast country. Here, we catch up with this inspiration of a man.
What has been your proudest achievement and why?
Competing in the Rio Paralympics is my proudest achievement because it helped me realise my true potential.
How was your Paralympic experience?
It was the happiest moment of my life. It was a great opportunity to learn from other athletes about their work ethic, the kind of effort they put in, their sincerity, and their attitude towards their chosen sport. It was truly a wonderful experience.
Why did you opt for swimming?
I was determined to pursue swimming. My aim was to become an accomplished swimmer. My dad was a national level swimmer. It was his dream to see me participate in national and international swimming events and win medals. I wanted to make my dad’s dream come true. And I did not let my disability come in my way.
Who motivated you to participate in the competitions?
My dad motivated me, not just for swimming, but also to face life’s challenges head on. He wanted me to be independent, be it in swimming, education or anything else.
What do you like about swimming?
I love water and I love to swim. I remember I never used to miss swimming, even when I had exams.
What is your daily training regimen?
I swim from 5.30 to 8 in the morning. That is followed by a gym workout from 10am to 12pm. Again, I swim in the evening from 6 to 8.30 pm.
How was your experience when you shifted out of home in Solapur?
In the beginning, my parents were a bit hesitant, and apprehensive about my shifting. But I reassured them, that I would be fine, and could manage things on my own. I first shifted to Pune and thereafter to Bangalore where I trained the whole of last year. I’ve moved back to Pune now.
What was your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
I think my biggest challenge is to push myself during practice, when I am already tired.Moreover being mentally prepared for a competition and handling the intensely competitive environment is a challenge for every athlete. To overcome these challenges, I visualize the race and review my practice sessions before each competition.
How do you deal with pressure while competing?
Rather than feeling the pressure of competition, I focus on giving my best performance. I visualize my race in advance and focus on bettering my practice to achieve best results during the competition.
Who has been your support system?
My parents. They not only motivated me throughout my journey in competitive sport, but have also helped me in times of need and guided me through difficult phases.
Who is your inspiration?
My coach is a great inspiration. I also draw inspiration from other athletes, their performances, their successes and their journeys. That apart, I watch inspiring videos and movies, which keep me going.
What is that one advice by your coach that you always bear in mind?
His only advice is, “Discipline and hard work matter the most”
What are your future goals?
I aim to bag a medal in Paralympics. I also want to start my own swimming academy where I can share my knowledge with other swimmers.
What personality trait of yours do you believe has helped you come this far?
I have the right attitude, and am sincere in my efforts towards excelling in my sport. I also back it up with strong knowledge. This combination, I believe, has played a key role in my journey thus far.
How do you keep yourself calm and composed when things don’t work as expected during a competition?
I stay positive, analyse and learn from my mistakes. I then practice even harder for the next competition.
What message would you like to give the public at large about para sports?
Our para athletes are making our nation proud at the Paralympics, and other para sporting events. We need to create more awareness around it. Also, we should accord equal importance to both, the Olympics and Paralympics. People should appreciate and encourage our sportspersons for their work and accomplishments. Also, several para athletes are often constrained by their limited financial means. The public at large can play a major supporting role here through their generosity.
What support do you expect from the government?
I expect to get financial support from Sports Authority of India for the Asian Games and World Championships, just like they support Paralympics and Olympics. Schemes and plans should be provided to the athletes, to address and alleviate their financial woes, if any. This way, the athletes can focus on bettering their competitive performance without any distractions.
What message would you like to give budding athletes?
I would say, “Don’t think of what you don’t have, think of what you have and work on it.”
What passion would you follow, were it not swimming?
If I were not swimming, I would have taken up something in the administrative field.
To know more about Suyash Jadhav, visit his profile
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