Tokyo Paralympics 2020 – Exclusive Interview: India’s star para-swimmer Suyash Jadhav, who won Gold in Asian Para Games in 2018 along with two bronze medals and Silver in the 2016 German Swimming Championship, in an exclusive interview with InsideSport.co opened up ahead of the much-awaited Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Suyash Jadhav declared he is confident to create history in Tokyo and will surely win a medal for the country. Suyash Jadhav will leave for Tokyo on August 15th, 10 days ahead of the Paralympics games which will start on August 25th.
Q. Tell us about your journey as a para-athlete.
A: My father was a national level swimmer but due to some reasons he could not continue his swimming career. Thus he wanted me to take swimming seriously. From the age of three, I started swimming. My practice was going good but when I was in the sixth standard a tragic incident took place.
Q. How was the feeling of winning the first-ever gold for India in the Asian Para Games?
A: It was my first international gold medal and India’s first gold in the history of the Asian Para Games. I think it was a huge moment for me as well as for the country. That achievement made me feel proud to be an Indian. It was really a great experience. I touched an open wire which was conducting current with an iron rod. Both my hands were paralysed and in the end, doctors decided to amputate my hands below the elbow.
As I was very young I could not understand how life was going to change after this incident but my family suffered a lot.
I did not give up on my dream of becoming a swimmer. And two years after the accident I again started swimming.
Q. Talk us through your preparation for Tokyo Paralympics?
A: The preparations are going great I am feeling confident about myself and I think this year could be my year. I will my level best to finish on the podium and bring home at least a medal if not Gold.
Q. In swimming your palms act as pedals to push you forward. But you have managed to break that stereotypes. How different is your training from normal swimmers?
A: In my case, there is no difference between a normal athlete and me. As I don’t have palm my speed is not as much as a normal swimmer, this is the only difference there is. Because of the plan they get better pull which I don’t. I follow the same kind of routine which a normal swimmer follows. More often than not I practice with normal swimmers.
Q. Could you share with us your daily fitness routine?
A: I do running. I do pushup after wearing boxing gloves. I can do normal gym work out as well. I had to modify it in my way but I do it anyway. I do a little bit of upper body workout and focus on the lower body a lot. There is a fixed fitness session before and after the swimming that we do daily. Other than that Wednesday and Saturday are assigned for fitness in the week.
Q. Do you follow any specific diet to help you through your training for Tokyo Paralympics?
A: For an athlete what not to eat is more important than what to eat. I treat myself as a sprinter and there is a specific diet for the sprinters, which has a balance of both proteins and calories. Fish, chicken are mainly in my diet. And I also have a cheat meal day in a week.
Q. As almost the entire world is suffering from a pandemic, how do you manage to keep yourself going in the given situation?
A: All the swimming polls were shut which affected me and all the other swimmers very badly. but I did not give up and continued with a bit of homework out. I have found what kind of running will help me with swimming and I used to do all those in the lockdown.
Q. You were recently selected in TOPS. Tell us more about it?
A: The Target Olympic Podium Scheme is a flagship program of the Ministry of Youth Affairs. This scheme provides assistance to India’s top athletes who can win a medal in Olympics. Under this scheme, I will be getting all kind of support related to swimming. Right from the diet to travelling and even physiotherapy and messages, all are covered under this.
Q. In the current situation, swimmers are the worst hit. You had missed the entire 2020 due to no swimming pool available. Again similar situation has raised. How are you training now?
A: There is a lot of similarity between a swimmer and a runner. When you don’t have a swimming pool to practice you can definitely run and that will help your game. For instance, if you are not able to do OD (Over Distance) in swimming then Marathon running is equivalent to that. It’s all about the plus rate, you just need to maintain it above 150.
Q. What changes do you think are required to produce more swimmers in India?
A: It is very important to develop a swimming culture. In India, people were not aware of a career in sports, leave alone swimming. It is very important to assist athletes like us with financial need. Giving jobs to medal winners is also a very good way to help athletes and parents feel secure about their future.
Q. Who do you idealise among para-athletes? and why?
A: There are many, to be honest. Andre Brasil Esteves is a Paralympic swimmer from Brazil. He had poliomyelitis as a child. He is my idol.
Q: You are a true inspiration for many budding swimmers in the country. What message would you like to give them?
Suyash Jadhav: One thing that I have followed throw out my life is ‘ Think of what you have, Don’t think about what you don’t have.’ Follow your passion and you will get success. Only hard work and nothing else can get you on the top.
Tokyo Paralympics: Para-swimmer Suyash Jadhav confident, ‘will win Gold medal for India’