CHENNAI: Being sure about one’s goals in life is not necessarily something that is set in stone in the mind of an adolescent. Yet, there are also those who are mature beyond their years and have already chalked out a plan of action. Thirteen-year-old Chitresh Tatha belongs to the latter group.
A diminutive member of the Tamil Nadu Sailing Association, this debutant is the youngest Indian sailor among the 679-strong Asian Games contingent.
Chitresh is the national champion in Optimist class and the youngster has sailed in UK, Ireland, France, Malaysia, Turkey, Netherlands, Bahrain and Malta. He took up the sport five years ago. “I began sailing in 2009 and it came naturally to me. I love being on the water. It gives me great joy,” he beams.
For the past two years, Chitresh has been training vigorously under the watchful eyes of Yachting Association of India chief national coach Pete Conway of Great Britain and assistant coach Umesh Naiksatam. “Apart from a strong mind to combat the elements, sailing also requires a lot of upper body strength. Because of Chitresh’s age, one can’t let him touch weights. So all the exercises have to be some form of calisthenics,” Naiksatam opines.
A Class VIII student of Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram in Kilpauk, Chitresh has the school and principal’s backing. He hasn’t attended a single class in eight months! “The sports exemption programme is what dreams are made of, but I train very hard, so it evens out in the end,” he reasons.
Chitresh says his interest in sailing piqued after seeing his elder sister Meaghanaa BT, 18, take a shine to the sport. “I saw my sister sail and I too wanted to give it a try. She sails in Laser Radial class, but has taken a break to concentrate on her studies.”
When asked about his goal for the upcoming Games, Chitresh grins broadly. “India have never won a medal in the Asiad, but I’d like to change that. A podium finish would be perfect!”