CHENNAI: 14-years-old. And a cool `5 lakh in the bank? Don’t worry. Boy in question earns every penny on merit. He is one of the most promising swimmers from Tamil Nadu, creating ripples in the national circuit for a while now. S Akash is a student of Velammal Vidyalaya (Mogappair West), who has made winning medals in events conducted by the National School Games Federation of India such a habit that awards are pouring his way.
Exploits like a double silver and bronze apiece in these competitions mark him out as one for the future. One of the few states that incentivise sporting excellence from a formative stage with cash rewards, the Tamil Nadu government has left no stone unturned in encouraging this talent. Akash has bagged 150-plus medals in the last five years or so, in various state meets. He holds the state record in 50m backstroke, of 38.85 seconds. For someone so young, it’s a remarkable statistic.
“It feels great to get recognition from the government. It will motivate me to do better,” says the youngster, who is genetically not a stranger to sports. His father V Sajith is a former body builder and mother Uma Sajith a national-level volleyball player. Unlike most of his classmates who took to chess, Akash chose swimming. “It is the only sport where the entire body works in sync with the mind. It is the only sport when one physically exerts every limb.
I started swimming at eight and am enjoying every moment of it.” He trains at the SDAT-Dolphin Swimming Academy, Mugappair West, under noted coaches KT Muraleedharan and Rani Anisia. The husband and wife are certified by the National Institute of Sports and have been serving the sport for 30 years. National record holder Nisha Millet is among their famous wards. “Akash is a hard working, dedicated and disciplined swimmer.
His parents are very supportive and take care of his diet as per advice. His father is a former body builder who takes care of his fitness. The Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) is helping him. He is in the champions development scheme,” said Muraleedharan. “He has flair for the sport and the potential to be a worldclass swimmer. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, training schedules of swimmers were affected for nearly a year.
We are looking forward to opening soon and preparing them for national events,” added the former national coach. Akash found himself in a strange situation during the lockdown. With things looking better, he feels relieved. “It was difficult to train without swimming. But I did not let my body become lax. I did floor and stretching workouts. I did core training and was strict with my diet plans. I am happy to go back to my other home (swimming pool), where I will spend more time,” says the Michael Phelps fan.