Jain University alumnus, Sharath Gayakwad, breaking the barriers
Sharath Gayakwad receiving the Arjuna Award from President Pranab Mukherjee
Sharath Gayakwad Receiving the Award
Sharath Gayakwad was recently conferred with the Arjuna Award for his contributions to the sport of swimming. “I was definitely surprised and happy as it is one of the highest honor that a sports person can receive. It is really good that the Government of India is recognizing the talents of athletes across various sports.” explains Sharath.
He started swimming at the age of nine as it was made mandatory at his school and has never looked back at that decision. He had to face many hurdles like lack of proper facilities, sponsors, and recognition from the state and central governments. He overcame the adversities to represent India at the Paralympics, “It is every para sportsperson’s dream to be a Paralympic Champion, mine too. I got the opportunity to achieve the first step towards this dream by participating at the games. It felt like nothing before, it felt like paradise.”
Sharath’s proudest moment in the pool came at the Asian Para Games in Incheon (2014) where he won six medals for the country. He idolizes Ian Thorpe of Australia and hopes to emulate him one day by winning medals at the Paralympics, “He is my favourite swimmer. He was the most amazing swimmer when I started swimming and I love watching him swim. Later as the internet picked up, I got to learn a lot about him and this made me love him even more. I am currently training to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and hoping to win medals for the country there.”
Sharath Gayakwad propelling through the water
Sharath is highly appreciative of the support that he got from his coach and JainUniversity, “My coach John Christopher has been training me for the past 11 years and I don’t think I could have achieved or been happier training under any other coach. Jain University has always been special. The support you get being a sportsperson is incredible. Shankar Sir, Chenraj Sir, all the teachers and students show immense respect and support. I miss the time spent in the college.”
Sharath wants to reciprocate to the sport that gave him the confidence to pursue his dreams. He hopes to become a coach in the future and create swimming stars for the country, “I want to be a swimming coach and train Olympic and Paralympic Champions.”
Way to go Sharath! We expect more medals for the country from you.