Father Santosh lives his dream through his children

Son Mukund shatters four national records en route to 55kg gold in national weightlifting championships, daughter Vinatai pockets silver

Published: 03rd January 2023 07:31 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd January 2023 12:38 PM   |  A+A-

Mukund Aher

Mukund Aher in action at the IWF Youth, Junior and Senior National Weightlifting Championships in Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Santosh Aher, who hails from a small village, Mandwad (Nashik, Maharashtra), always wanted to be a sportsperson. He pursued mallakhamb in his formative years but it was restricted to the occasional display of skills during the festive season in the village. As he grew up, the sport was no longer a priority.

But once Santosh got married and had children with his wife Indu Bai, he decided to live his dream through his two sons and as many daughters. Today, all his children are athletes with three of them pursuing weightlifting, and the younger son taking up wrestling.

Santosh was a proud father on Sunday as he forgot a torturous train journey of 40 hours from Manmad (Maharashtra) to Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu. He had seen his eldest son, 19-year-old Mukund, shatter four national records to clinch gold in both senior and junior categories at the ongoing IWF Youth, Junior and Senior National Weightlifting Championships. The icing on the cake was Santosh's daughter, Vinatai, winning 40kg silver in the youth section and Megha finishing fifth in 45kg in the same age group.

Mukund broke three records of 2022 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Sanket Sargar (snatch and total in junior and snatch in senior) and one clean and jerk record of Shubham Kolekar in the junior section. His best lifts in snatch and clean & jerk were 114kg and 140kg respectively making an overall lift of 254kg.

"The biggest problem arose when my mother Gangubai objected to my daughters taking up weightlifting. She didn't speak to us for almost six months but once they won medals at the district level and local newspapers carried their photographs, she accepted my decision," Santosh, who was onboard a train on Monday, told this daily.

Santosh Aher with his family

All his children started with mallakhamb before switching to weightlifting and wrestling. It was coach Pravin Vyavahare, a teacher at Chhatre New English School in Manmad, who played a key role in the decision. "Mukund was doing good in mallakhamb as well but then it was not possible to pursue both sports simultaneously. He started training exclusively for weightlifting from class 8th," Vyavahare, who imparts free training to children at Jai Bhavani Vyayamshala in Manmad, told this daily.

Soon after, Mukund started finishing on the podium in school nationals and youth national championships. A good show in the 2018 youth nationals meant he was included in the national camp. A couple of years later, he pocketed 49kg gold at the Asian Youth & Junior Championship in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In 2022, he changed his weight category to 55kg and clinched gold at the 2021 Khelo India Youth Games in Panchkula. The transition was the same for Mukund's sisters as they also switched to weightlifting from mallakhamb.

However, it was not easy for the father, who works as a private security guard with the Food Corporation of India (FCI), to arrange the requisite diet for his children in the beginning. The earnings from his small piece of land were also not enough. But his family, especially the younger brother, contributed generously to ensure the children got the best.

"Once they started doing good at the state level, we bought two cows so that they get milk regularly. And when Mukund moved to the national camp, his diet was taken care of. Now my daughters and younger son Om live with his uncle in Manmad so they attend weightlifting classes regularly. I live in the village with my wife Indu, who has been extremely supportive. Pravin sir also helped us a lot as he made sure the switch was smooth," said an elated father.

With his dream of turning his children into athletes fulfilled, Santosh now wishes they win laurels for the country. "Weightlifting and wrestling are Olympic sports and it's my dream they represent the country and win medals in Olympics. Hopefully, they fulfil my this dream as well," signed off Santosh.

India Matters


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