‘Defeat is the nightmare that keeps me motivated’

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Varun Singh Bhati/21/Para high jumper

Varun Singh Bhati, who suffers from poliomyelitis, grabbed a bronze medal for India in Men’s high jump T-42 in Rio’s Paralympics. He trains at Sports Authority of India, Bengaluru and is supported by GoSports Foundation through Para Champions programme. A student of BSc Maths (Hons) at Maharaja Agrasen College, Delhi University, Bhati speaks to Mishka Bangia about his recent win

Edited Excerpts from an interview .

How has your experience been in Rio de Janeiro?

Frankly, I am enjoying my stay here. We were the first from our lot to arrive here, now we are ready to come back. Prior to September 1, we were in Volta Redonda, a bit far from here, for acclimatisation.

You aced a bronze and Mariyappan Thangavelu grabbed a gold for the country internationally, which is a really proud moment for all of us who studied at Agrasen – indeed, the whole nation. How was the audience response when you were announced?
We both are very happy for each other. Mariyappan deserved a gold that day. Even though we had language barriers, we were supporting each other during the event. He and I are roommates too. The best part was that our coach Satyanarayan Sir was so confident of our success that he had brought sweets with him and after our medal was confirmed he distributed to all the Brazilians there. They loved the sweets! The whole crowd was cheering and wanted selfies. In all, the spectators were mind-blowing!

What are your celebration plans?

I don’t like partying much: it’s a waste of time and money. But yes, we are expecting more victories here and since we were first, after the event wraps up, we will have a blast. I am, moreover, looking forward to the party my family is organising.

What’s next on your bucket list?

After a week’s break in Noida with my family, I will go back to train in Bengaluru as we have qualified for World Championships in London next year. Then, there is the Asian Games and again World Championships followed by Tokyo 2020. So I am all geared up to train hard.

What message do you want to give to fellow aspirants?

To my fellow aspirants, I will say: Do not go for small things, work smarter, willpower is a must. I fuel myself on willpower…Diet is secondary for me.

Surely diet is important, as it keeps you healthier and fit.

Anything that gives me energy is best. I love to eat exotic fruits. Corn is another favourite.

What do you want to say to the people who gave you this opportunity?

I have earned this opportunity. I believe everything happens for good. In 2014, I lost my Asian Games medal. Then in Doha I lost again during the World Championships. But still I was patient, though many times, I thought of quitting. If Satyanarayan Sir hadn’t been there, this performance would not have been possible – also Sports Authority of India. As a coach he is our friend, mother and father too. He treats us like his children, what more can anybody desire? It’s very difficult to rely on food during our travels: he even cooks for us. He is the national coach and he was with me in every event. Yes, family and friends too are there through thick and thin. Now my family is extremely happy.

What are your other passions?

While initially I was a bowler, now I am a huge basketball fan. I love playing basketball and volleyball during cross training.

What do you believe in?

I believe dying defeated is the worst nightmare. This is something that keeps me motivated to go further with the will to achieve more.

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