Pune, MAHARASHTRA :
Young sports achievers are juggling practice, exercise, diet and the occasional indulgence to stay on top of the game
It’s common knowledge that players keep a grueling routine of regular practice schedules, fitness regimen and strict diet. Now add studies to that, and you can imagine how young college-going sportspersons juggle different routines to stay on top of their game — both on the field and off it.
Says sports psychologist Janki Rajapurkar: “Good academic performance helps youngsters build confidence. It also makes the transition after retirement from sports easier. Meanwhile, sports hone life skills like discipline, responsibility, and coping with wins and losses. So, skills you learn on the field are helpful in academics too.”
HIBA FAQUIH, 20,
The student of Bachelors of Business Administration, Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies, started playing competitive football when she was 16. She’s played for Maharashtra at the national level. And her top honours include Player of the Match at the All India Women’s Football Tournament last year, when Maharashtra beat Orissa, and again in the Inter-District Tournament organised by Pune District Football Association earlier this year. She also won Best Player of the Tournament at Symbiosis Inter-Institute Football Tournament for 2014 and 2015.
The grind: Faquih, who idolises Diego Maradona and Alex Morgan, trains Mondays to Fridays from 4pm to 7pm and on Saturdays from 1.30pm to 4pm. “I also hit the gym every morning for an hour,” she says.
“When I started playing, I used to get stressed when exams clashed with practice,” recalls Faquih, who now handles her schedule much better. “Now I have a fixed schedule and rarely miss my practice due to studies,” she says, adding that she even plays during exams because it acts as a stress buster.
But playing for four to five hours a day must leave little time for a social life? “Yes, I keep missing dinner plans, birthday bashes, but no regrets,” smiles Faquih. And does she miss pigging out on her favourite food too, thanks to her diet chart? “Following a diet was the hardest part because I love junk food and sweets. I don’t mind extra hours of training, but I need my daily dessert. Although with time I have reduced the quantity, but I still indulge,” admits the youngster, whose diet chart advises a balance of carbs like pasta and protein like meat, with nutrition bars thrown in as snacks.
YAMANI MEHERALLY, 20, FAUZIA MEHERALLY, 18,
Sisters and St. Mira’s College students Yamani and Fauzia Meherally have made their parents and college proud by consistently winning top honours in table tennis.
While Yamani most recently won the under- 21 district championship in 2014, Fauzia won the PYC Gymkhana 2015 tournament, beating Yamani. “I have a more aggressive game than her,” says Fauzia, a Class 12 pass-out.
Yamani has been playing state and district level tournaments from 2004 and Fauzia has played three national-level games at Vijaywada in 2008, Chennai in 2009 and Indore in 2010. Yamani shares, “My biggest win was when I defeated Maharashtra no 2 Senhora D’souza at Aurangabad in 2012 in the quarter-finals of the state championship.” Fauzia’s biggest win was when she won a national-level bronze at Vijaywada.
The grind: The duo trains with their father and practises for four hours daily. “We strictly avoid junk food and make sure we do exercises like running, cycling and stretches every day.” The only time the duo misses out on training is during exams or if they are not well. While Yamani, a Commerce student, admits that she misses out on outings, Fauzia insists that she does not like outings or parties.
And do they cheat on their diet? Confesses Fauzia sheepishly, “I love chaat, so once in a while I just go for it.” In almost the same breath, she reveals her elder sister’s fondness for chocolates and how she feasts on them secretly.
KALYANI OAK, 21,
“I was introduced to swimming by my father when I was seven,” says the Electronics and Communication Engineering student of Cummins College of Engineering for Women. “My first competitive swim was when I was 10. ‘Go and have fun’, my parents told me and I did just that. I still do,” says the youngster.
Oak won a gold and a silver at the CBSE swimming nationals in Jaipur in 2007 and a bronze the next year at Nagpur. Most recently, this January this year, she won a gold at COEP’s national inter-collegiate meet. Oak is also a three-time individual championship winner (from 2012-2015) in the state-level inter-college meet organised by Cummins College.
The grind: Oak, earlier, used to train for 1.5 hours each in the morning and evening, but now, due to academic commitments, swims for 1.5 hours each day, six days a week. She also practises yoga for four days a week.
“Swimming has never taken a toll on my studies. In fact, it has always refreshed me. After a nice swim, chatting with my friends and team-mates at the pool, I find myself being able to focus more on my studies,” says the youngster, who loves writing short stories.
According to her, swimming is a great aerobic exercise and works on every part of the body. As a short distance swimmer though, she had to focus on building power and speed that comes from regular practice, which starts at 5.30 am. The only time Oak skips swimming is during exams. “Otherwise, I drag myself out of bed, no matter what. So there’s hardly any room for parties or late nights,” she says, adding that her solution was to make friends at the pool.
As a vegetarian, Oak has to focus on her protein intake. “Since I don’t eat meat, I try to make up for it with pulses, milk and egg,” says Oak, adding sheepishly: “I have a sweet tooth, so I hog on barfis and chocolates especially when I am out with friends or family. That is the only time I let myself go.”
NEHA KANTHE, 21,
TAEKWONDO PLAYER, ROWER
A state-level Taekwondo player, Kanthe has also won top spots in national-level rowing competitions. Kanthe’s first Taekwondo match was a district-level competition in 2007, where she won bronze. She went on to win gold at the School Games Nationals Goa in 2010. Apart from that, she also bronze in the junior national championship in Jharkhand in 2011. However, a ligament injury in 2013 put an end to her martial art stint. But the youngster quickly channeled her energy into rowing, and how.
The first race Kanthe competed in was Challengers Sprint Nationals in Kolkata in 2014 in the single scull category making it to quarter finals. The Mechanical Enginnering student of COEP, who ended fourth in the single scull category at the 73rd ARAE International Regatta, Colombo, Sri Lanka, 2014, and came sixth in the coxless fours category in the 35th National Games, Kerala, 2015, won two gold medals in the single and double scull category at the Maharashtra Rowing Association State Championship this year, Nasik, this year.
The grind: Rowing requires pace, hard work, stamina, and a lot of consistency. So Kanthe practises for two hours each in the morning and evening, six days a week. When she’s not rowing, she exercises on the ergometer or indoor rower.
Ask her if her commitment to the sport takes a toll on her studies and she promptly replies: “It helps me relax and increases my concentration. The only thing it takes a toll on is my social life. Most of the times I am the missing member in parties and hang-outs.” But on the other hand, the sport has won her the attention of her friends and teachers. “Teachers know me personally and I have a lot of friends. They all help me when I miss classes for races,” she smiles.
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source: http://www.punemirror.indiatimes.com / Pune Mirror / Home> Pune> Campus / by Siddhant Ghatge / May 25th, 2015