Family matters in the pool at Khelo India University Games
Rujuta Khade, wife of national record holder swimmer Virdhawal and Siddhant and Sameer, cousins of Olympian Sandeep Sejwal created ripples at KIUG, showcasing how blood, indeed, runs thicker than water.
Bengaluru: After the twin sister act of Jyoti and Aarti Patil representing the University of Mumbai in the swimming event of the Khelo India University Games which concluded after four days, it was the day of Rujuta Khade, wife of national record holder Virdhawal and Sejwal brothers – Siddhant and Sameer – who are cousins of Olympian and Asian Games medallist Sandeep Sejwal, to shine.
Sandeep, the expert in men's 50m breaststroke has competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where he participated in 100m and 200m breaststroke after he qualified for the 'B' standard. Later in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, he won the bronze medal also in 50m breaststroke to become only the third Indian to win at the continental meet.
However, Siddhant speaking to The Bridge, on Thursday is very clear about his ambition. "I want to take up the teaching profession," said the elder one who is a final year MPeD student at Punjab University and won three silver and three bronze medals while younger Sameer, a first-year BPeD student, pocketed two bronze medals.
Both admitted that Sandeep inspired them to take to swimming. "That goes without saying. Sandeep inspired all of us particularly after he became an Olympian," said Siddhant, 25, three years older than Sameer who too wants to follow his brother.
"We have decided a long time ago to take up teaching as a profession as our father quit as a professor so that we could concentrate on swimming and achieve," said Sameer.
Their father, Dr Pramjeet Sejwal, taught political science at Delhi University for eight years but left the job so that his children could pursue swimming and is now a real estate businessman.
They have a sister, Pallavi, 24, who too was a national champion in the school national games, all-India Inter-University in 2019 and 2020 Khelo India in 400m and 800m freestyle. The 24-year-old has already quit swimming and is now a teacher with Bhatnagar International School in Delhi.
Rujuta takes her 'first and final' plunge
Meanwhile, Rujuta is happy that she could sign off her university life in style. The swimmer representing Shivaji University, Kolhapur returned to the pools after a five-year hiatus. "It was not because of marriage to Virdhawal but I was injured, it took time to heal and rehabilitation also took time," said the 27-year-old.
Her husband Virdhawal, 30, is not competing for the past couple of seasons but still holds the national record in 100m freestyle and has represented India in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and won a bronze medal in the 50m butterfly at the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad.
Sachin Nag was the first Indian to win a medal – yellow metal – in the 1951 New Delhi Asian Games.
"I'm trying to push him back into the pools but he is working as tahsildar at Mumbai. Whatever, I will try to get him back in competition mode soon," said Rujuta who has the 2019 Bengaluru Asian Age and the 2019 Kathmandu South Asian Games medals in her neat collection.
"This (Khelo India) was not a target competition but when I found that I can do better than the youngsters, I took a plunge," said Rujuta who bettered the Khelo India Games record in 100m freestyle with a time of 1 minute 01.93 seconds on Thursday.
Her immediate target is to make it to the contingent for the 2022 Hangzhou Asiad. "This is my first and final Khelo Games," signed off Rujuta, a final year MCom student.