Age is not a barrier, and its only the limitations we have in our minds....
You will hardly come across stories as inspiring as this. It’s a story of a Para Swimmer who ensured that his disability doesn’t become an obstacle or a disadvantage in the path of his dreams.
It’s a story of Suyash Jadhav who lost both his limbs at the age of 11. But it didn’t stop him pursuing his dreams and becoming the first Indian Para-Swimmer to win a gold at the Asian Games. With around 14+ International medals, 50+ National & 50+ State medals, he has nothing else to prove. Having qualified for Tokyo Olympics, he has now set his eyes on adding another feather to his cap.
It’s a reminder to many of us, that if you think your life is tough and stressful, then you must read this story, where Syuash has overcome all his shortcomings and brought glory to the family, community and the nation.
Cynergy caught-up with Suyash, while he is in his Farms at a village near Solapur. In this candid chat, Suyash opens up on his journey, the struggles he has gone through in life and his mantra for success.
Do read and drop in your comments.
Yeah. It’s beautiful. It’s been a nice weather too here in the village. I love farming and do it myself. We come from farming background, so this is in our blood. We are in midst of sowing seeds now and things are going well. We should never forget where we come from, as that sets the foundation of your life going forward.
Suyash at his farm (credit: Instagram)
Share with us about your background
My father, Narayan Jadhav, is retired now. He was an incredible sports teacher in the school & has changed many lives. Played many sports himself like – Swimming, KhoKho, Kabaddi, Wrestling, Volleyball. Many athletes who trained under him, have found glory i.e playing for nationals, got jobs in Police/Psi etc. and living a good life.
My mother is a housewife and she take care of all my nutrition, dietary requirements etc. Even travelling with me to various events, training, so that she can manage my nutrition closely. My elder sister is married & younger sister is a nurse in Pune. She is doing a great service to the nation in this hour of crisis.
Suyash with his 9 months old kid (Credit: Instagram)
Got married couple of years ago and I have 9-month boy. This is a great time, where I can spend a lot of time with wife, family and my kid.
Your father has been a great support & inspiration. Tell us about him and how did he nurture you?
My father, Narayan Jadhav, is a great swimmer himself. He qualified for nationals but couldn’t participate that year as the event got cancelled due to cyclone in Odisha. Every year he participated in state championships and won medals. All of this without any advanced training, just by practicing in the rivers and ponds in our native village. He had that burning desire in him to compete and bring medals at national & international levels. Tremendous amount of effort he has spent on grooming, nurturing and mentoring us. I am living his dream now and every time I step in the pool, I make sure he feels proud of me.
He started giving me swimming lessons from the age of 2. All the swimming basic constructs were taught to me in that tender age. With age, he ramped up the training for me. When I was in Grade 6 (at the age of 11), during one of my cousins wedding, I got electrocuted by one of the live wires which touched the iron rod I was playing with. That incident changed us a lot. Our family was under tremendous pressure those days, thinking of me & my future ahead.
Around 12 months later, we were visiting Trimbakeshwar (Nasik) with our family & cousins. Almost all my relatives took a dip in the sacred Godavari river, and after sensing my eagerness, my father allowed me to swim in the river. That moment was divine, as I felt like nothing has changed and I was able to swim like the days of past. People say, you need two hands to swim, which is true, but for me it wasn’t the case. I could swim equally well, without my hands too. It was like suddenly you realize that it’s time to start your life again and trust the divine instincts. My dad then started to look out for competitions for para athletes. I started participating in many such para sports events (state & nationals) and kept winning medals.
My father has taught me one important thing in life, which I would like to mention – “Never give up, keep struggling, as this struggle today will form the strength in we need tomorrow”. Whatever the circumstances be, never drop into your struggle. My mother and father have believed that without struggles, we can never succeed in life. He is such a motivation, a bible in himself.
Suyash, with his father Narayan Jadhav (Credit: Instagram)
Other than my father, Umesh Godse, gave us the direction, about participating in Paralympics swimming competitions. He himself used to play and participate in those events. Once we got in touch with him, he guided me a lot on the techniques & shared wide knowledge about the competitions. Initially he was the one, who showed us light. Will always be grateful to him for that.
How did you get over the rough patch? Did you ever thinking of leaving the sport?
That period was very disturbing for me. I picked sports over everything, but the sport was not helping me then. Studies was left far apart, as all my focus was on swimming. Going back and picking another career was not an option for me.
Till 2010, I used to stay in my native village. After that I shifted to Pune and took advanced training. That was important, as I started understanding the world better. It changed my lifestyle, started to see the world differently. I had to completely reform myself to the city sports culture first, before competing at the international levels.
How did the city (Pune) change you?
In Pune, I started my training at Deccan Gymkhana under Kaplpana Agashe. Really toiled hard, giving around 6-7hrs of the day to training & fitness. After training at PYC for around 6 years, I moved under Tapan Panigrahi at the Balewadi Stadium, since 2017. After my parents, I give all my credit to my coaches under whom I have trained. God has been kind to me in this regard and hope the momentum continues in future too.
Suyash, with his coach Tapan Panigrahi (Credit: Instagram)
My coaches were very adaptive in training me. For a guy coming from village, they didn’t push me directly into big time fitness drills. We took it iteratively and focused more on basic concepts like drills, pulling and basic constructs first. Took almost an 8-12 months for me to move to advance trainings. They were actually very patient with my training, and I could realize the long-lasting impact it had on me.
Tell us about your first international competition in Bangalore
On a Regular basis, I participated in every year state national’s competition and kept winning them. My first international competition was in 2009 in Bangalore, and I just came out of Malaria, so wasn’t fully fit. Somehow, I made to the competition, but then we all suffered badly with food poisoning just before the day of my event. At less than half of my actual fitness, without any advance trainings, coming from a remote village, I competed the event and won my first bronze in my first ever international event. That gave me & my father immense confidence in my capabilities.
Your first international competition out of country. Share your experience with us.
My first international competition out of country was in Sochi, Russia (Russia International 2015). Had to compete with world record holders from Russia. Manage to beat them in 50m butterfly and win the medal. All the effort we put, wins we get, is fruitful only when we see Indian flag rising up during the award ceremony. Perhaps the only moment when you are crying with so much joy in heart.
Suyash winning silver medal in #50m_Butterfly in Winter Polish Open Swimming Championship at Szczecin, Poland. (Credit: Instagram)
Last 3 years, your game has changed quite a lot and you are on a winning spree. Tell us how did the change happen?
Before 2014-15, I used to swim really well and used to do sufficient training. I used to practice & participate a lot in domestic/national tournaments but didn’t know much about international tournaments & hence couldn’t participate. It was because of lack of knowledge in the international sports & also lack of right contacts. I used to meet the meet the minimum qualifying criteria (MQS) for Commonwealth games (2014), Asian games (2014) & the World Championships (2015), during the practice & training sessions. So, in-terms of confidence, I was right there and willing to step in the international competitions. But I still couldn’t participate in those tournaments. That broke me down completely and started thinking of an alternate career. Many things crossed my mind then, but I firmly decided to continue with Swimming and spent great deal of effort on knowing & collecting information on international sports.
Asian Games Medals of Suyash (Credit: https://www.suyashjadhav.com/)
As you say, knowledge is power. Things changed after that. And I started competing slowly in the international circuit. Due to that my game improved drastically, and so did my fitness. Learnt on how to balance things during trainings – i.e. Fitness, diet, sport and gave equal important to each of these. Adapting to the right attitude an international athlete requires.
Also meeting right people who can guide & mentor you are very important. There is no substitute to hard work and training in sports.
Freestyle and butterfly are your forte.
Yes, that’s my winning game. I got gold in Asian Games in butterfly. Freestyle is my forte too and have won lots of medal there too. Breaststroke is weak, but I tend to work more on my strengths.
Suyash, in action in the pool (Credit: Instagram)
Share with us about your sponsors and associations.
I am currently associated with Gosports. My experience with them has been great. Very caring and helpful guys, they are. Not just about helping during the events, but they do a great job in taking all-round care of you like equipment, travel expenses, Lodging, Physio etc. I just focus on my sports, training and ensure that I keep giving the results.
Since 2018, I also have a job with Maharashtra Govt. in Pune, as DSO (District Sports Officer). Even though I am a DSO scale, I took the role of swimming coach so that I can continue with my passion. I was also rewarded Eklavya awarded by Maharashtra govt.
After winning 1 Gold & 2 Bronze in Asian Games, I got acknowledged and rewarded by Govt. of India. It had a good cash payout as well. Very thankful to the Govt. of India for taking care of athletes like us. It really inspires us to do more and bring the glory to the country.
You were once Ranked 9th in Freestyle 50m and 10th in the Individual medley.
Yes, back in 2016. That’s right. Before Asian games, I was ranked #6. Depends on the competitions and how do we perform in the games. There is pressure due to these rankings, always back of the mind. But not during the actual games.
With your eyes set on Tokyo Olympics, how is the preparation going amid Covid19
Yes, I have already qualified for Tokyo Olympics. There is no swimming happening right now, so I am focusing a lot on the fitness & workouts. Long running (20kms), Short running, sprinting, core workouts, endurance trainings are some of the things I do on a regular basis.
Each morning is a dedicated 2hrs, as per the timetable I have created, with help of my coach (Tapan sir) and father. For Olympics, this is not enough. We need more practice & trainings for Olympics.
CynergyServices wishes Suyash Jadhav and his family, a safe health & a great 2020. We thank him for his time & the support to the community.
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