BENGALURU: International sport has seen several successful siblings. The Murray brothers, Williams sisters, Pathan and Waugh brothers are a few of the notable ones.
Though they may not match up to the level of the siblings mentioned above, the swimming scene in Bengaluru has the Mani brothers - Avinash and Arvind - who have been making waves with their performance in the State Senior Aquatic Championship recently.
While 18-year-old Avinash is focused on taking part in the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championship, his ultimate dream is to qualify for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, Arvind wants to take things one step at a time and his sole focus remains the Asian Games in 2018.
For Arvind, swimming was a secondary sport. Being a rower, he had to learn swimming. Yet, he excelled in the ‘unwanted’ sport under the tutelage of experts in the Basavanagudi Aquatic Centre (BAC). But for his younger brother Avinash, it all started when he accompanied his brother to the pool.
The BAC coaches noticed his desire to be at the pool and he followed his brother’s path. Unlike Arvind, Avinash could not achieve instant success. He had to wait nine years until 2012, when he won a medal at a relay event.
“I think I have great parents because they waited for years for me to perform. They never said a word about me not performing whereas many swimmers like me were stopped from swimming by their parents,” said Avinash.
The amount of hard work put in and sacrifices made by their parents were all worth it.
Avinash and Arvind now hold multiple junior and senior State records. Avinash has also won a bronze medal in the Gymnasiade World School Games (Turkey) recently.
But considering the lack of sponsorship, world-class training equipment and government support in swimming in the country, the Mani brothers still have a long way to go.
Pointing out the problems, Arvind says, “There is so much of sponsorship in cricket, which is not an Olympic sport. A sport like swimming requires different types of facilities and training equipment, which is lacking here. We think that only cricket is a great sport and comparatively any other sport doesn’t receive that kind of importance.”
Achievements don’t come without proper support and behind the Mani brothers’ success, they have their parents as their support system.
They also remain grateful to their colleges, teachers and coaches who stood by them and encourage them even as they continue to challenge an uncertain future in swimming.