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National Games are like mini-Olympics, says swimmer Nisha Millet

Olympian Nisha Millet at her training centre.
Olympian Nisha Millet at her training center.

Olympian and former swimming champion Nisha Millet has equated the National Games to a mini-Olympics. She said that the Games are one of the most important events in every Indian athlete's calendar.

Millet, who was awarded the best National Games athlete in 1999, said there is no better feeling for any athlete than to rub shoulders with the best. She believes the event creates an opportunity for the athletes to get better at their trade.

“The National Games are the best event in the country. It is the only meet where the nation’s best athletes from so many sports assemble, giving one the feeling of mini-Olympics. There is nothing like rubbing shoulders with the best to make yourself become better,” Millet said.

Having competed in three editions of the Games, she made sure to set the pool on fire every time she competed. She took part in the Pune edition in 1994, winning one bronze medal, and the next two editions in Bangalore (1997) and Imphal (1999) were Millet's best.

She won a whopping eight gold medals in Bangalore and 14 in Imphal, becoming the talk of the town on both occasions.

“It was a long journey from Bangalore to Imphal and I remember the pool was really cold. That (the 1999 edition) was an important meet since it got me going towards the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney,” she added.
“I also remember flying back first-class after having to stay for the closing ceremony to get my award.”

Nisha Millet looking forward to National Games 2022

Millet is glad that almost every major star in swimming will be competing in Rajkot, making it one of the most competitive fields.

“It’s really going to be exciting. I foresee so many big battles. The established stars cannot take things for granted either. I think we will see some new champions. Some juniors will surprise the seniors,” she said.

Read: National Games: Triathlete Pragnya Mohan aiming for gold in her home state

The Arjuna Award winner hopes that the National Games will now be held regularly.

“The Games boost the morale of young athletes and help them get used to the winning habit too. They also create state-of-the-art sports infrastructure which is so critical. They ensure the best of facilities to every athlete,” she added.

Millet recently opened a swimming academy in Bangalore which caters to tiny tots (one-year olds and above) and is focused on coaching girls. She has also associated herself with the DY Patil Swimming Initiative in Navi Mumbai, underlining her philosophy of giving back to the sport.

Edited by Anantaajith Ra
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