BENGALURU: The weather in Birmingham is bright and sunny, which makes it an ideal day for a good walk. But Niranjan Mukundan, a paralympic swimmer from Bengaluru, plans to rest in his room or focus on his practice and gym.
To be fair to him, not everyone gets to represent India at a championship of such a huge scale. Mukundan is one of the 200-plus athletes from India at the 22nd Commonwealth Games. He was also a part of the grand opening which happened at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham on July 28. Mukundan described the emotion while marching for India at the opening ceremony as ‘beautiful’.
The paralympic swimmer from Bengaluru, calls the experience of people cheering for India ‘surreal,’ however, he is keeping all his focus on getting the gold. Sharing an anecdote from that evening, Mukundan says when India entered, they got some of the loudest cheers. “I was in the front line of the march. Our flag bearers were PV Sindhu and Manpreet Singh, the captain of the hockey team. We had most of the athletes except for the ones who had their events on Friday.
A lot of people had come to cheer for Indian athletes,” says Mukundan, adding that the experience felt too good to be true. The event itself was even more special for Mukundan because it was the first time he was part of an opening ceremony. Since his events this time was a little later, he didn’t want to miss out on the chance of experiencing the euphoria of representing India at the opening ceremony of the event.
India getting one of the loudest cheers means that a lot of people had high hopes for the athletes taking part in the events. “You might get opportunities to represent the country, but how calm and composed you are at that stage is what matters. Of course, there is a lot of competition, I have tough competition from Australia and South Africa. There is also a lot of pressure to do well, but staying calm matters at such a huge stage,” says Mukundan, whose event is on August 1.
Almost a month before the Commonwealth Games, he was in Portugal for the World Championships and had maintained good timing. “I was carrying on that momentum to the Commonwealth Games. It is often difficult to find specialised events for para-athletes in the Commonwealth Games. So, I was very happy that this cycle of the Commonwealth Games had events in my category,” says Mukundan, who has set his eyes on gold this time.