A look at the city’s young sporting talents that go beyond cricket
From a strapping tennis player headed to the junior Wimbledon championship and a cueist gearing up for the next World Championships, to a swimmer prepping for the nationals, young sports stars are showing a promising international future. We bring you the details. —Rashmi Rajagopal
Vaania Kapoor, 12
For Vaania Kapoor, winning gold medals has become a habit. And she has her medal tally for the last few years on her fingertips — all won at various state-level and national-level meets. “In 2013 alone, I bagged four golds each in the state and national-level meets and have broken and set a few records too,” Kapoor says. Flushed with success from her first international outing, in Singapore, where she won two gold and two silver medals, Kapoor tells us how it all started. “When I was about two years and 10 months old, my mother signed me up for a class. I totally loved it and have been swimming ever since. I won my first medal at age three at a swim meet organised by our club,” she says.
Bright and fun loving, Kapoor is nonetheless aware that success doesn’t come easy and is prepared to put in the daily grind and gruelling routine that an average 12-year old would find very challenging.
“I don’t go to school as often as I would like to. I watch what I eat and consume a high protein and carbohydrate diet,” Kapoor explains and adds, “The authorities at my school, Primus Public School, have been very understanding and supportive, giving me time off from my academic schedule, which is why I have been able to pursue my passion.”
On the sidelines
My idol: Michael Phelps, Nisha Millet
My goals: A gold in the 2020 Olympics
City I’d love to perform at: Dubai
Alternate sport: Football
Varsha Sanjeev, 17
Varsha Sanjeev started her sporty trip with basketball, then moved to swimming and then chess, but none of these choices could hold her interest for long. “I didn’t really enjoy them enough plus I lacked the athletic build for the physically taxing basketball and swimming,” Sanjeev shares. But while flipping through channels one day, her interest was piqued by a live snooker match in progress.
Her mum, who noticed her eyes light up, suggested she try her hand at cue sports. “I have good aim, so mum felt it might be the sport I was looking for. Turns out, she was right,” she tells us, adding, “That summer, I signed up for a summer camp at the YMCA. The coach saw me potting all the balls and suggested I take it up seriously, and continue training at the Karnataka State Billiards Association.”
Sanjeev has, in the five years since, won a number of national titles and a bronze at the world championship held in Ireland last October. “I learnt to persevere and never give up from my mum, who set an example for me. She used to be a homemaker but in the last nine years, she moved from a tahsildar to an assistant commissioner,” the teenager says. With the crucial second PUC examinations now behind her, Sanjeev will go back to playing most tournaments rather than only on the high profile ones.
On the sidelines
My idols: Mark Selby, Ronnie O’ Sullivan
My goal: A world title in two years
How I unwind: Pizza and a movie
with my friends and sisters
Venue I’d love to play at: The Crucible, Sheffield, London
Adil Kalyanpur, 14
What started as a summer activity has now turned into a promising future for Adil Kalyanpur, currently ranked as Asia’s No. 2 player by the Asian Tennis Federation in the boys under-14 years category. After starting on the local circuit in the under-10 years category, he has now moved into the big leagues and has been on the road, playing at international destinations for the better half of the year. His schedule is so packed that he enrolled in an online school, based in California. “My assignments, worksheets, exams and everything with regards to education is done online. So even when I’m on tour, I can easily use my laptop to work on my academics. It’s not a cake walk and the stress gets to me at times but I’m living my dream, so it’s worth it,” Kalyanpur shares.
On a training session at the IMG Academy, USA whose alumni includes Maria Sharapova, Venus and Serena Williams, Kalyanpur got a taste of what it’s like to be on tour. “I loved every moment,” reveals the 14-year-old who thanks the sport for taking him to dream destinations like Spain, France and Vietnam. “If I didn’t have to play these tournaments, I wouldn’t have visited all the non-touristy towns,” says Kalyanpur who recently won the Road to Wimbledon under-14 championship as a result of which he will participate in the UK Nationals U-14 championship at Wimbledon.
On the sidelines
My idols: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal
My goal: Play the men’s Wimbledon final
Fitness: Meditation and breathing
techniques to help focus
Best moment on tour: Meeting Nadal. He
told me to, “Work hard and keep competing.”