Blog by : Udarcis Dutta
Sports have always been a distant ambition for budding children while growing up due to the lack of proper awareness and promotional campaigns in India. Except for Cricket, all other sports and even bodybuilding events are treated with a distant touch and the young Indian generation are forced into the clandestine routine of education and job hunting. One such neglected sport is swimming. Sandeep Sejwal gave India’s floundering swimming campaign a new impetus towards popularity and fame through his remarkable achievements.
Born in 1989 in Devanagari, Delhi, Sandeep had completed his graduation from St. Stephen’s College. Growing up, his mother was his biggest motivation in his journey as a swimmer. There was no swimming pool nearby when Sandeep started training. So for twelve years, everyday at 4.30am, Sandeep’s mother would wake him up and take him to the Dhyan Chand National Stadium. They had to change buses twice and after two whole hours, they used to reach their destination. The treacherous journey was repeated again in the evening at 3pm everyday. Losing his father at the age of 3, Sandeep along with his mother and sister had to endure tremendous sufferings everyday. Sandeep got a job in Western Railway which barely covered their daily expenses.
Despite the hardships, he never gave up swimming and neither did his mother stop encouraging him. Soon the medals started to pour in. His mother’s hardships and prayers were rewarded when he won a rare bronze medal in the 50m breaststroke event of the 17th Asian Games in 2014. His medal saved face of the Indian swimming team which had been struggling even to get to the finals of many events.
He is the Senior National Champion and Indian National Record holder in the 50 m, 100 m and 200 m Breaststroke events. He qualified in the swimming events for 2012 London Olympics after clocking 1:02.92s in the 100m breaststroke event at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai. He won silver medals at the Asian Indoor Games, 2007 in the 50 m and 100 m Breaststroke events. He was also the first Indian breaststroker to qualify for the Olympics when he swam 100m and 200m at the Beijing Olympic Games. He also bagged 3 gold medals and broke 3 records at the 59th Edition of Malaysian Open in 2016.
He was awarded the prestigious Arjuna Award under the National Sports Category for swimming in 2012.
In India, most sports don’t get any funding due to lack of proper promotions and campaigns. Swimming is also one such sport that doesn’t attract sponsors but the GoSports Foundation has been helping Sandeep for quite some time. Be it monetary support or mentorship under Rahul Dravid, they have ensured the 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist gets everything needed to focus on swimming.
Sandeep is optimistic about the future of swimming in India though.
“Swimming has a lot of growing up to do in terms of media attraction and sponsorship.” – he added.
“If a little help is provided to the swimmers by the corporate houses, I think the sport is going to change a lot quicker than ever.”, concluded Sandeep.
Times are surely changing in India and so is the emerging sports domain with new budding sports enthusiasts joining in everyday.
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