« Back to articlePrint this article

Olympics-bound sailor Saravanan adopts unique training

Last updated on: June 11, 2024 18:21 IST

IMAGE: India's Vishnu Saravanan in action during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Photograph: Ivan Alvarado/Reuters

On the pavement, in the kitchen or on water - Vishnu Saravanan is wasting no opportunity to hone his competitive streak ahead of the Paris Games, and egging the Indian on is a coach with an unorthodox theory about Olympic preparations.

The 25-year-old is set to become only the second Indian sailor to compete in multiple Olympics and is eyeing a top 10 finish in what would be his second Games appearance.


It would be a significant improvement on his 20th place finish in Tokyo three years ago and his Croatian coach Milan Vujasinovic is keen Saravanan stays fiercely competitive.

"Whether we are on water or off it, he has a theory that we should always be having a competitive mindset," Saravanan told a virtual press conference arranged by the Sports Authority of India on Tuesday.

"If somebody's walking in front of you, you'd have to overtake them. That's the kind of mindset I have to implement.

"We actually compete against each other in everything, from cooking to walking. He's a funny guy.

"He helps me with everything and he's a good coach. He's well respected around the fleet. So I'm lucky to have him."

Saravanan does not mind the time he spends in the kitchen though as it is part of his broader coping mechanism to deal with loneliness.

The Asian Games bronze medallist spends a significant chunk of the year training abroad and squeezed in a brief trip back to see his family before the Paris Games.

"Sometimes I don't even come home for eight months. It's quite lonely sometimes but then I remember what the target is and that keeps me kind of hopeful."


This is where cooking is coping for the Laser Standard sailor from the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

"I love cooking even though I don't cook much Indian because it takes so much time," he said with a smile.

"Or I'll spend all my time in the kitchen, like my mother. It won't be nice."

Saravanan is proud of his ability to adapt quickly but misses hanging out with friends.

It is a conscious choice and he would not call it a struggle or sacrifice to try to achieve his dreams in sports.

"People are homeless and struggling for the next meal. Those are the real people who are actually struggling and sacrificing everything just to get the next meal.

"This, what I do, is comparatively nothing."

The Indian expects strong winds to shake things up in Marseille, the Mediterranean port city which will host the sailing events at the Paris Games.

The tactical aspect of the sport, which he calls "chess on water", could prove even more crucial in that case, he reckoned.

"It'll be quite a nice challenge because there'll be a lot of ups and downs in the results.

"I really like those kind of situations because it gives you a little bit of a chance to perform and whoever's consistent kind of wins."

© Copyright 2024 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.