-: Vakkalanka Venkataramana :-
3 from TN, including lone woman Netra, in fray
International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach’s statement recently that the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan’s capital city will go on as planned must have brought back the wind in the sails of at least one sports administrative body. And that body happens to be Sailing Association. The reason for welcoming IOC’s reassurance to this effect is not difficult to see: it is that for the first time India will be fielding four young, talented sailors who would be competing for medals in the Tokyo Games, which had to be postponed by an year due to the current COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world since March last year. Normally in the Olympic water sport of sailing only one sailor has been able to compete in the most prestigious multi-discipline sporting event.
But thanks to the relentless efforts of the sport’s administrative body in India especially the Tamil Nadu Sailing Association, four Tamil Nadu sailors, including a woman sailor, have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Sharing with Trinity Mirror his joy at the rapid development of sailing sport in India, Tamil Nadu Sailing Association president Ashok Thakkar explained that TNSA produced the largest number of sailors in the country. “And many of their children as well as the others – all youth – have been participating in various international competitions,” he pointed out adding that the National Yachting Federation of India is headed by the Chief of Naval Staff. The national federation draws up the budget for various development activities of the sport. Sailing along with other sports is now being supported by the Government through the Sports Development Authority of India and Ministry of Youth Affairs.
The lone woman sailor in the four -member Tokyo Olympics bound Indian sailors, Netra has been training in Spain since last year along with Vishnu. These two would be competing in laser class boats in Tokyo. The other two sailors Varun Thakkar and K.C. Ganapathi have been training in Abu Dhabi to compete in Tokyo. They have been training in 29er class boats, which is the feeder for the 49er class in which the two would be competing in the Tokyo Games. Varun, who is Ashok Thakkar’s son, and Ganapathi have been in the sport since the age of eight and six respectively.
Excited about qualifying for the Olympic Games at Tokyo in the month of July, Ganapathy and Varun said, “We are extremely proud that we have qualified for the Games. We are going to work hard and improve in training and give it everything at the coming Olympics.” Ganapathy and Varun contend that sailing was not just a hobby or small part of their life but their profession. “We dropped out of school in 2009 and have been in the sport full time since then. We grew up competing against each other before pairing up and sailing in 2011,” they explain.
According to Mr Ashok Thakkar, the sport of sailing will achieve a big leap in further development when the proposed Sailing Academy gets ready. “The sailing Academy, being set up by the Government of Tamil Nadu, is expected to be ready by next year. This will help us produce more and more prospective champion sailors, not only for Tamil Nadu but also India,” an elated Mr. Thakkar contended.