Special Knack of catching up with the Technical aspects is a special trait in Sanjana- Captain M.R. Ravindra
14year old Sanjana Shyam has just come off a Gold medal in Sub Junior Girls (fours) Nationals in Calcutta and the excitement in her face is quite palpable. But her feet are firmly rooted to the ground for she believes that this is just the beginning and that there is a long way to go in realising her ultimate dream that of rowing for the country and winning a gold medal.
And her captain and mentor Captain M. R. Ravindra believes she is champion material. He pays glowing tribute to the young rower. ‘Sanjana has great potential to make it big in rowing at the international level. She has tremendous grit and a special knack of catching up with the technical aspects of rowing, which is important at this initial stage of her career. She is also a disciplined girl.’
‘She is currently on the right path and has all the right attributes to make it big. And with hard work and discipline, has it in her to carve a name at the national level.’
Quits Badminton to take up Rowing
Sanjana was a top 8 ranked player at the state junior level in badminton a couple of years ago but a combination of distance and cost led her to saying it ‘quits to badminton’ at a time when she seemed to be doing well.
It was watching her mother Saraswathi (who had represented the state in rowing in the early 1990s) row at the Madras Boat Club that inspired Sanjana to take the ‘dip’ into the Adyar River.
Later, Captain Ravindra pushed Sanjana’s mother to get Sanjana initiated into rowing. Ravindra had his reasons. ‘Rowing is a non impact Sport. Chances of injuries are less. And it provides peace and solitude to the rower. More importantly, it helps you improve on your co-ordination skills and the ability to work as a team as even the slightest mistake by a player in the fours could spoil the team’s chances. Hence each of the four players has to co-ordinate to get the best results for the team.’
If the early wins are any indication, Sanjana seems to have made the right move. And in this quest, she is training very hard. 6times a week, she wakes up at 5am and is off to the boat club before rushing off to school, even having her breakfast during her drive to the school. Back from school, she is back into the waters, atleast twice or thrice a week, to improve her timing in the doubles sculls and fours that she currently specialises in. The Ergometer tracks her fitness levels and she is constantly being monitored on various fronts.
Sanjana’s younger sister Shilpa is her best friend and fan. She keeps complete track of Sanjana’s schedules and adjusts to her elder sister in a way that is a delight to her parents.
With Rowing requiring round the year training at varied intensities, the early morning schedule is one that her parents too are getting accustomed to. Her parents wake up at the knock of five every morning to drop her at the MBC and pick her back to then drop her at school.
Captain Ravindra , who himself was a national champion in 1982, cautions Sanjana of growting expectations and the need to keep improving. He is pleased with the fact that her parents are very supportive, especially given that this is not a glamourous sport and is not necessarily financially lucrative at the moment for rowers in India.
Rowing, in the long run, could throw open significant higher education opportunities for young rowers like Sanjana, if they continue to pursue this sport. ‘It is the oldest collegiate sport in the West. And Sanjana is likely to be welcomed with open hands by the Universities in the UK and Australia if she performs to the best of her potential in the next 5-6years.’
Ravindra believes that Sanjana is currently in the ‘grounding’ phase of rowing. With age on her side, she can focus the next two years on developing her skill sets and getting into peak fitness including reaching a height of 5.5”/ 5.7” and the appropriate weight. Once into the Junior Category, her progress can be rapid, if she practices hard over the next two years.