Sailor Vishnu Saravanan has stated that the Indian contingent needs to remain cool-minded at the Tokyo Olympics, much like the former Indian cricket captain and two-time World Cup champion Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Saravanan, along with Nethra Kumanan, Vishnu Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar are the four Indian sailors to have secured Tokyo Olympic berths.
This is the first time that India will have four sailors participate in an Olympics. While Kumanan will compete in the Laser Radial event, Saravanan will be seen in the Laser Standard Class competition. The duo of Ganapathy-Thakkar will take part in Skiff 49er.
While all four are making their debuts at the Tokyo Olympics, Kumanan became the first Indian female sailor to qualify for the Olympics. The four sailors achieved their Tokyo Olympics qualification through the Mussanah Open Championship, which was an Asian and African Olympic qualifying event.
Tokyo Olympics to serve as learning curve for Indian sailors
Saravanan, an Army brat, wants to stay grounded at the moment ahead of the Tokyo Olympics and use the big-ticket event as a learning curve for years to come. He also said there isn’t much pressure on him as they have nothing to lose.
“I will be happy to finish in the top 50 per cent. There’s no pressure because we know we’re not there yet. We are young and have room to learn more. The whole nation has so much hope on us but we have to be cool-minded like MS Dhoni and do our job,” Saravanan said in a virtual media interaction organised by SAI.
Kumanan, who was also present at the same media interaction, echoed the same statement that the Tokyo Olympics will help them to access where they stand in the world competing against some of the best.
“We will go to the Games without a lot of expectation. We will see where we stand against the world level. This will be a great learning process for us,” said Kumanan, who has been training in the Canary Islands in Spain for the last two years.
Sailing was never the go-to sport in the country, although several others have represented India at the Olympics before. However, with their Tokyo Olympics qualification, the likes of Kumanan and Saravanan believe that this is the first step for the sport to be accepted among masses in the country.
“The Olympics qualification’s brought a lot of recognition to sailing and will help in years to come,” Saravanan said. “It’s a huge step to be at the Tokyo Olympics and it’s brought a lot of light to the sport of sailing and I hope many people take it up,” Kumanan added.
Saravanan also admitted that he has also been in touch with a couple of Indian sailors who represented the country at the Olympics. Not only are they sharing their experiences, but the senior duo are also keeping the youngster in the loop about what to expect in Tokyo.
“I have been in contact with Nachhatar Singh Johal and Malav Shroff. We keep in touch quite a bit and they share their experiences, knowledge of their part of the Olympics and let us know what we are going to go through at Tokyo Olympics,” Saravanan added.
The duo also thanked the Ministry of Sports for adding them to the TOP's core group ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. There are 113 individual athletes who are currently supported through the TOPS scheme. Wrestlers Anshu Malik and Sonam Malik are the recent additions with the four sailors.
“Thanks to the Sports Authority of India for selecting us in TOPS. It gets expensive at a high level and we want new equipments and the sailing community is producing new equipments every day. We have to train with the top guys and we need lot of budgeting. So, heartfelt thanks to SAI for doing this for us,” Saravanan said.
Kumanan further added, “Being in TOPS will provide much benefits for our travelling expenses. We are extremely grateful for this and this will give us an extra incentive to perform the best at the Olympics. I wholeheartedly thank the Indian Govt, SAI, our federation and so on.”