Born in the village of Pangare in Solapur district of Maharashtra, Suyash Jadhav was introduced to swimming at the age of 3 by his father Narayan Jadhav, his first coach. When he was in the sixth standard, he got accidentally electrocuted and lost both his hands, but he never lost hope.
Since 2004 Jadhav has been participating in many state, national and major international competitions like Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, 2018 Asian Para Games, 2019 World Para Swimming Championship. He has brought home more than 115 medals from all these competitions.
Sportskeeda caught up with Suyash Jadhav for an exclusive interview. Here are the excerpts:
Q. How did you feel after missing out on qualifying for the final round of the men's 200 meters Individual Medley competition at the 2016 Rio Paralympics?
Yeah, I was very nervous and stressed that I couldn’t make it. If I had qualified and entered the game, I would have been the first Indian to do so, and witness this proud moment.
Q. Who was your motivation to take up swimming as a career?
My journey started at the very early age of 3 years, due to which I developed a keen interest in swimming during this time and the first coach was my father. My father was selected in the National Swimming Championship in 1978, but due to difficult circumstances in the country, the competition was cancelled and he couldn’t participate.
That time my father decided his son will complete his dreams of participating and winning medals and represent our country in international competitions. So my father was my big motivation.
Q. We have learned that you like cricket and cricketers. Who is your favorite Indian cricketer and why?
I admire Sachin Tendulkar because of his hard work, passion for cricket, and also because one of the most important skills of a good batsman is to know which ball to hit and which one to leave. All great batsmen have the patience to wait for the loose deliveries. That's where they score the most runs and Sachin Tendulkar is just best at this.
Virat has a different style of captaincy. He always likes to be right in front every time, leading from the front and be aggressive all the time. How to keep yourself and your team motivated by maintaining fitness he knows very well. And that’s the reason Virat Kohli is one of my favorite cricketers.
Q. You have suffered serious injuries at some crucial moments of your career. How did you overcome them and what kind of thoughts did you have at those ?
I was keeping myself strong mentally and physically, but at the same time, I had thoughts about quitting swimming. I did physiotherapy, my coach gave me various drill workouts, etc. and I successfully overcame that situation.
Q. You have made India proud, not only once but several times. How did you feel after winning medals for the country at international events?
Well, representing India at the international level is a proud thing in itself. When I won a historic gold medal for India at the Asia Para Games 2018, I remembered my whole journey from my struggle during hard times and the challenge in training. When I saw our nation’s flag going up and they played the national anthem, I had goosebumps on my body and felt so proud.
Q. Tell us one dream that you regret not being able to fulfil.
It's a Paralympic medal. I dreamed of getting a medal in Paralympics but I couldn’t get that. But I am trying and preparing for it.
Q. Can you share your favorite moments with your coach Tapan Panigrahi.
During training, Tapan Sir gave a set on 16 x 50 meters and the target was to reduce time every 50 meters. But I got into a situation where I was completely stuck, and couldn’t reduce the time for the next sets. Then I thought Tapan Sir would say, "it’s ok, leave it." But he was thinking exactly opposite to it and he made me complete this task and I did. This is my all-time favorite moment.
Q. How did your family react when you told them that you are going to take up swimming as a career?
As I mentioned earlier, my father was a national swimmer and there was a sporty environment in my family already. When I decided and told them that I want to make my career in swimming, they were happy and supportive. But one thing my father told me which was, "If you’re going for sports, go and don’t look back. This is the only thing you’ll have to do and achieve success." And I did it.
Q. The Tokyo Paralympics is coming up next year. How are your preparations going on for the same?
Due to the pandemic, all swimming pools were closed, and I missed complete water training since March (for almost 8 months now). So I converted that long workout into running, speed endurance running, core training etc every day to maintain fitness and regular practice but that is not that effective. Hopefully, after Diwali, all swimming pools will be open and I'll be starting water training soon.Published 09 Nov 2020, 15:27 IST