Nothing can stop you when you chase for Perfection! The story of Para Swimmer Sharath Gayakwad
10th May 1991
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Sports - Para Swimmer
Sharath Gayakwad is an Indian Paralympic swimmer from Bangalore.He is one of the best inspirations to all the sports enthusiasts. Being from a modest background, he never gave up on his passion. He is the first ever Indian to qualify for the Paralympics and competed in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Struggling with a shoulder injury leading up to the Asian Games in Incheon, Sharath ended up winning 6 medals. This was the highest tally of medals by an Indian at the Asian Games. Sharath chases for perfection. He has not only been a flawless swimmer but a great coach as well.
Team imd1 is grateful to interview such an inspiration and wishes all the success to Sharath for his bright future.
We are really keen to know; how did your journey begin?What was that moment when you discovered that you want to become a Swimmer?
I started swimming at the age of 9, when the school (Little Flower Public School) I was studying in decided to make learning swimming mandatory for all the class 4 kids. I did not have any option but to learn swimming. It was scary in the beginning, but I fell in love with the water the moment I got in the water. After a couple of years, I learnt about the competitions held for the differently abled. I started to train hard and before I knew, I was very serious about it, also winning medals do help you to make your decisions easier.It was the time when everyone around me was asking me about my career choice, this is when I decided I will take up swimming professionally.
Know me Beyond Swimming
I draw inspirations from
Ian Thorpe (Australian swimmer)
Food I Love
Seafood, Butter chicken, Desserts
Food I Hate
Had I not been a Para Swimmer then…
Something in sports, probably football
Like Vacations at
Beaches and mountains
Favorite Pass time
Watch movies and TV series
“I am the best there is at what I do but what I do isn’t very nice.”- Wolverine
Favorite Movies / Series
Logan, The greatest showman, John Wick, Friends, The Mentalist, Dr. House, etc
Favorite Actor / Actress
Hugh Jackman, Akshay Kumar, Dwayne Johnson, Tom cruise, etc
What were the hardships/hurdles you’ve encountered and how did you overcome them in your journey?
As a kid doing anything was very difficult and taking help for everything made me feel bad but learnt that there are many ways of doing things. Slowly started to do a few things in a different way and learnt everything. We were not strong financially as well, but my dad never said no and tried everything possible to make me comfortable and do what I love. I suffered shoulder injury and the pain made me try to quit the sport many times. I had to go through a lot of physiotherapy and stay away from the sport many times but thanks to the all the support from my coach and everyone around me, I continued to pursue swimming. Then I finally quit, when I no longer felt the urge to compete and my top priority was to coach.
Who has been your influencer in this journey & how?
My parents and coach John Christopher have been the biggest influencers in my journey. No matter how good or bad the situations I went through, I always got their support.
Tell us something about your Coach…
My coach John Christopher has been the main pillar that held my swimming career together. He is more of a friend and a father figure to me than just a coach. He never believed I was bad or weak at anything! No matter how many times I failed, he always pushed me to give my best. If it wasn’t for him then probably, I wouldn’t have achieved things, people can’t even imagine! He is always fun and the most sensible at the same time.I would just like to say one thing, success always comes at a later stage in the life, the only thing you need to remember is that why did you start in the first place? It’s because you love doing what you do. So next time you have a setback just go back and continue with the same passion that you began with.
Success is incomplete without its share of setbacks. What advice would you give to others about handling them?
Analyze where you went wrong and pick it up from there correcting it and moving forward.
Do you think Swimming and its learnings can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career?
Always. Doing any sport helps you in your life. There are so many advantages of swimming and the highest recommended sport by any doctor! More importantly it’s a life skill and everybody should learn swimming and water safety in their life. I always say health is first priority and swimming has too many advantages.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
In competitive coaching we look at the age of the kid, as it helps us to plan and train the kid with the right foundation. Parents mind set is very important then the child’s, as many parents force their kids to excel from the beginning but rather, they should focus on building the foundation. Also, its very important to let the kids enjoy what they are doing as unless you enjoy something you will not be able to do good at it. But if the parents are not determined or committed it’s difficult to get a good performance. That’s pretty much it.
How has technology transformed the world of Swimming (learnings/observation)?
Technology has helped us to understand swimming better than before and has made the sport much easier to understand. Today we have technology, which shows exactly where the swimmers are putting effort and what he/she is doing wrong! Which is one of the most important part of the sport (Biomechanics). Technology has helped us to conduct the competitions with much ease. And there are many new equipment that help in a better training experience, better performance and injury management.
What according to you is scope of Swimming in India?
Swimming in India still has its share of success to be recognized. India has come a long way from where we were 20 years back, when I started swimming. At every step we’re finding new talent and the competition has become so fierce and races are unpredictable with records being broken at regular intervals. I know we still don’t have a recognizable achievement at the Olympics / Paralympics, but the Indian swimmers are giving amazing performance and soon we will get to the top podium.
If you were to bring one big change in the way people get trained in Swimming, what would that be?
Every coach / club have different styles of training, every swimmer is different and needs different type of coaching at different various levels. Would definitely recommend for a better grassroots program where the kids get their basic fundamentals right and make the job of competitive coaches easier for technique.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Swimming training in remote parts of India?
There are swimming pools in many of the rural parts of the country, but there is no basic program to find talent. It’s important to give them facility and access to better coaches and nutrition.
Your piece of advice to parents who are skeptical about their children taking up a career in any co-curricular activities?
I always believe that everyone has a talent and the kids will find it once they start loving and are happy doing what they want. There are so many career opportunities these days than there were 10-15 years back. The government support has come a long way than few years back.
Your piece of advice to the youth of our country?
It’s always about giving your 100% no matter what you are doing. One will achieve success, if you just train with 100% dedication every time.
What is your success mantra?
I try to chase perfection.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I Am The 1”?
It’s always been “I Am The 1” moment for me, including the times I have failed because ‘I Am The 1’ is the person who has to raise up from the failure, I am the best there is at what I do!
Any other thoughts you want to share?
I would like to share about a non-profit organization ‘BluFin Foundation’. The money collected from this foundation will help us to stress on the grassroots development and provide opportunity to the underprivileged and differently abled.