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CXOs in Sports: Interview with Alok Mittal - Managing Director, Canaan Partners

  • CXOs in Sports - Interview with Alok Mittal, Managing Director, Canaan Partners.
Vinay Sundar
Modified 05 May 2014, 19:54 IST
Alok Mittal, Managing Director, Canaan Partners

Alok Mittal, Managing Director, Canaan Partners

Sportskeeda brings another exciting series of interviews – CXOs in Sports, where we speak to eminent and prominent personalities, talking about their sporting interests and ideas for development of sports in general and of their sports work/interest in particular.

Alok Mittal is passionate about India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. He is a co-founder of Indian Angel Network, on the board of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Delhi, and an advisor to Adtech India. Alok joined Canaan in 2006. Prior to joining Canaan, Alok co-founded, a leading web-based recruitment business, which was acquired by, the global leader in online recruitment.

Mr. Mittal is a sports enthusiast, and enjoys running and enjoys Adventure sports a lot, specifically trekking. Recently, Sportskeeda caught up with him for a discussion on his interests in sports, and how he sees the future of sports in India.

How and when did you start following sports? What sports do you follow keenly?

I am not a sportsperson per se. However, an active lifestyle is something that goes back to my childhood, and has stuck. Personally, I had taken to Squash which lasted till my early 30s. I tried my hand at Golf, and got bored in a year. At this point, I run and cycle, the latter being a relatively recent interest. On the more adventurous side, I love trekking in mountains, and have been lucky to dabble in both sea and sky diving.

At what age did you get introduced to sports?

My earliest memories are of getting back home from school and heading off to the playground. I am not a trained sportsperson though.

Mountaineering and Running are two very diverse sports. How did you get introduced to them, and how regularly are you able to play?

I am more of a trekker than a mountaineer. My first treks go back to my student life at IIT, and the most recent one was to the Everest base camp. I took up running, when a friend who had a rather high BMI completed a marathon – that prompted me to run, and it stuck!


Your favorite sportsperson growing up, and why?

I don’t really have a “favorite” sportsperson so to speak, but perhaps Muhammad Ali and Roger Bannister stand out in my mind, for people who provided a higher meaning to their sporting achievements

How has Running impacted your life? Tell us that one aspect of Running that has always drawn you towards it.

Running is my time with myself. At the typical distances I run regularly, between 5-10 km, it is not too tiring, and beyond the first ten minutes, one is able to be at peace with oneself.  The fact that it works great for physical health is only an added benefit.

What has been your favourite Mountaineering moment? Describe it to us. (Do share any anecdote that comes to your mind)

The trek to Everest base-camp a year and a half back would be one. We were a group of ten friends, and the bonding along the way was amazing. Last year, I also went trekking with my 9 year old daughter, and it was great to just be with her amongst the mountains. Trekking is a great social sport.

How do you think we can promote the growth of sports in India?

I think of sports as an engagement activity. Local clubs and groups play a very important role, and mixing sports with fun is key to adoption. We are now seeing a huge off-take of simple activities like running and cycling, especially in metros like Gurgaon and Bangalore. Availability of facilities is another key factor, especially in sports, such as tennis and squash, that are dependent on infrastructure.

One thing that Mountaineering taught you that you consider important.

Perseverance. Getting to the finish line is all about taking one step at a time, and not calling it quits.

What is necessary to build a sporting culture in India in the future?

Availability of facilities at an early age is a key. While many of us have adopted an active lifestyle at a later stage in life, if a child is introduced to sports early and takes it up, it seems that that habit sticks for life.

A message for our readers.

Sports look hard from outside. They are fun and friction-less once you are in.

Published 16 Apr 2014, 14:21 IST
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