Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Speaking to Virdhawal Khade on winning bronze at the Asiad

Virdhawal Khade holds the distinction of being among the fastest swimmers in the world in his age group. He also made India proud this year at the Asian Games in Guangzhou by winning the first swimming medal for India in 24 years.
Virdhawal Khade after winning bronze at AsiadVirdhawal Khade after winning bronze at Asiad

Virdhawal Khade, made history at the Asian
Games this year by clinching the Bronze Medal in the Men's 50m Butterfly event. Virdhawal was the first Indian to win a medal in aquatics at the Asian Games, since Khajan Singh's Silver at the 1986 Games, and was also the youngest ever to do so. He holds several records in the 50m, 100m, 200m and 400m Freestyle events and in the 50 m Butterfly event. He is also the youngest ever Indian swimmer to qualify for an Olympics. Although he did not qualify for the semifinals of the 100m freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he did finish first in his heat and set a new personal best of 50.07 seconds placing him 42nd overall.

Khade also put up an impressive performance at the Commonwealth Games and was rated sixth place in the 50m butterfly semis. Khade who is originally from Kolhapur started swimming at the age of ten and has come a long way since then. This strapping six-footer is coached by Nihar Ameen and currently trains in Bangalore. In an interview with, Khade talks about winning bronze at Asian Games in Guangzhou and his future goals and plans. Excerpts from the interview. Firstly congratulations on winning bronze at Asiad. What are your thoughts and how do you feel?
Thank you so much. It was an unbelievable experience and I am thrilled that this is India’s first medal at the Asian Games in 24 years. However, I was a bit disappointed that I made a couple of mistakes that perhaps cost me another two medals. Hopefully I can continue to improve and set better times in the tournaments to come. 

You have been very successful in 50m butterfly, what’s your personal favourite?
Ironically my favorite category keeps changing every year. This year it was the 50m Freestyle and Butterfly events. For 2011, I will be concentrating a lot more on the 200m and 400m Freestyle events. 

What is success to you? What factors have contributed for the same?

I believe success is down to hard work and perseverance. You have to give it your 100% day in and day out. There is no room for complacency. If you want to set the best times and grab the medals, then you have to put in the extra effort.

How is it to train under Coach Nihar Ameen?
It is great fun to train under Nihar sir. He always makes sure we enjoy our training sessions and makes us continuously challenge ourselves. 

Do you follow any special diet?
There are no specific restrictions as such. I just like to eat healthy and include a lot of carbohydrates in my diet.

How do you stay motivated?
I am very hungry for success. Winning an Olympic Medal for India is what I dream of and it motivates me every day.

How do you stay calm and focused during pressure?
As a professional athlete, you learn to cope with the pressure. You learn to use it to your advantage. Personally, I have come to love the pressure and I perform much better when there is a lot at stake.

Tell us a little about your future goals and plans?
Next year I want to concentrate more on middle distance events, and then taper down from there to my usual sprint events for the 2012 Olympics.

What sets you apart from the other swimmers?
Every swimmer has a unique style and technique. I think I have the ability to use pressure to help me swim faster and also to bounce back from average performances.

What do you think about the current state of Indian aquatics?
There has been a lot of improvement over the past 2-3 years and the future looks bright.

What do you like the most about Bangalore? Do you miss home?
Bangalore is like a home to me now. I have got a lot of friends in Bangalore, and my girlfriend is also here. Thanks to Nihar sir, who is like a father to me, I don’t really miss home that much. However, when I do go back on holidays, I enjoy every minute of it. 

What do you do in your free time?

I love watching movies and sitcoms like ‘Two and a Half Men’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’. I also play a lot of games on my computer.

In the future do you plan to train abroad?

I don’t really want to train abroad, Nihar sir is world class coach and there are a lot of facilities in India itself. Hopefully it’s just a matter of time before I get an Olympic medal.  g
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