CHENNAI : Sailors Aishwarya Nedunchezhiyan and Jayalakshmi are the real winners from the feud between Varsha Gautham and Ekta Yadav for a spot in the 49er category event in Jakarta. It’s not everyday that you get an opportunity to represent India at the Asian Games after missing out during the selection trials. The duo finished third at the selection trials held in Chennai before the whole situation got murky.
With the fresh selection trials due to be announced soon, Aishwarya and Jayalakshmi are understandably excited and nervous at the same time. The Chennai girls started sailing together just 30 days back. Also, Jayalakshmi only recently shifted to the 49er category. Ahead of a major event, such adjustments in short notice can be tough for athletes mentally. As fit as they are, if the mind falters, it could hinder their overall output. Aishwarya, who won bronze in 2014 Incheon Games along with Varsha, is hopeful of making this rare chance count. “I never thought that this would happen. The whole situation is funny as the Asian Games is almost here and we still don’t know who will represent the country. But it’s a big opportunity for us and I’m feeling the heat. We barely got any time to practice and I hope that Jayalakshmi and myself can do better this time,” Aishwarya told Express.
The duo only joined forces just five days before the selection trials in Chennai. However, they got some vital exposure last month when they accompanied Ekta and Shaila Charles for training camps in Netherlands and Italy under the supervision of former chief national sailing coach Ian Stuart Warren. “Warren helped us a lot. He used to get up and make notes for the day at the breakfast table itself. It was intense and I hope that the session will favour us in the coming days,” she revealed.
Jayalakshmi sounded much more confident despite being accustomed to 29er category all her life. In between, she did try and shift to the 49er category but was not really able to make up her mind as it involves a lot of commitment with the other sailor. “I know Aishwarya for a long time. We have taken part in national level tournaments before. But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I know that we will give our best,” Jayalakshmi said.
While the Yachting Association of India was ordered by the Delhi High Court to bear the entire expenses of the trip for Varsha, Aishwarya and Jayalakshmi will have to manage on their own. With the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu offering support to Aishwarya, it won’t be a big burden for the 22-year-old. Jayalakshmi, on the other hand, is totally self-funded. “So far, it looks like money won’t be a problem. We are just waiting for the confirmation of the date of the trials to plan the entire trip,” Jayalakshmi email@example.com