Sharath Gayakwad is swimming to victory one medal at a time. This paralympic swimmer has participated in several prestigious sporting events like the 2012 London Paralympic Games, Asian Para Games, China, 2010, and the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation (IWAS) World Games, 2009. He has done us proud by winning multiple gold, silver, and bronze medals (30 international and 40 national thus far).
Swimming being second nature to him, Sharath persisted, despite his parents’ misgivings. He says, “In the beginning when I decided to take up swimming as a profession my parents were very hesitant. Like typical parents they wanted me to get a job and settle down into a different field.” But they changed their mind when they saw how much the sport meant to him.
2012 Paralympics preparations were insane. There were days where I crashed into the bed for the whole day and felt I was dead! But it was a great experience!”
A particularly difficult time in Sharath’s life came after he sustained a shoulder injury in 2009. Talking about it he says, “It was my high school dream to become a coach and it had become hard to cope with training every day and not be able to coach, because of the injury.” But Sharath pulled through, and today he is a dedicated coach as part of Gamatics.
For Sharath, his greatest joy comes from helping others in the field of sports, hence his association with Gamatics. It was formed with a view to help athletes, by providing a platform to tackle the myriad problems they face during their career. Sharath elaborates, “I used to train an upcoming swimmer Uthkarsh Patil who is a National Champion now. Uthkarsh was having trouble with many things related to training and competition, which were no different from the problems I used to face.” Uthkarsh’s parents Santosh and Shantala then came up with the idea for Gamatics.
One doesn’t just excel in their field without putting in the time, effort, and practice, no matter how demanding. Sharing his experience of training for the 2012 Paralympics, Sharath says, “2012 Paralympics preparations were insane. I was still going through some pain and was having difficulty in training. There were days where I crashed into the bed for the whole day and felt I was dead! But it was a great experience! I never felt like I was away from home as the coaches and my training partners made sure I had a great time.”
We are currently working with the Karnataka Government and few sports associations. Our aim is to address each and every sport differently, especially Olympic sports, and provide the best coaching we possibly can.”
An example in perseverance and grit himself, Sharath is greatly inspired by sportsmen like Rahul Dravid (who has also mentored him), Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Phelps, and his personal favourite Ian Thorpe.
As a core member of Gamatics, Sharath shares their plans for the future, “We are currently working with the Karnataka Government and few sports associations, and are also on the brink of launching our app for analytics. Swimming is our core sport, but we have started to work on other sports as well. Our aim is to address each and every sport differently, especially Olympic sports, and provide the best coaching we possibly can.”
A role model like no other, Sharath’s advice is worth etching in stone. He says, “My work motto, which I derived from Ian Thorpe, has always been – ‘Losing is not coming second, it’s getting out of the water knowing you could have done better.’ So no matter what level you are at, always try and give your 100%.”
Sharath Gayakwad’s love for swimming goes beyond himself. Selfless in his dedication to the sport, he gives aspiring athletes of our country the courage to chase their dream, despite the odds. He teaches us that when you love what you do, no obstacle is mighty enough to get in the way.