Khelo India Youth Games
Chasing his Olympic Dream, Vedaant Madhavan happy to be back on familiar ground
The promising swimmer has entered in five events – 100 metres, 200m, 400m (all freestyle), 800m and 1500 at the Khelo India Youth Games 2022.
Vedaant Madhavan, one of the promising swimming talents of the country and son of Tamil screen superstar R. Madhavan, is no stranger to the Khelo India – with one of his first competitive medals being a 1500 metres freestyle bronze in Guwahati in 2020.
However, as the five-day marquee event gets under way in the fifth Games at the Prakash Tarun Pushkar in Bhopal from Tuesday, the 17-year-old has taken up a bigger challenge upon himself.
He is entered in five events – 100 metres, 200m, 400m (all freestyle), 800m and 1500 for the medal table toppers Maharashtra, who boasts of a strong swimming contingent including Apeksha Fernandes, a member of the Union sports ministry's TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme).
Much as the Indian media and Bollywood tried to project him as his father's son, the Madhavan family had taken pains to keep him away from the spotlight – and to focus on his swimming pursuits where Vedaant nurses a a dream to be part of Olympics.
It's been quite a few years now since the pandemic started that Vedaant had moved base with his mother Saritha to Dubai, training at the Aqua National Sports Sports Academy under former national coach Pradeep Kumar and studying at the Universal American School, Dubai.
The strapping swimmer warmed up at the venue for about 45 minutes and looked all set to take the plunge for his first event – the 200 metres – on Tuesday. ''Khelo India has been a favourite competition for me as they provide us with the kits and shoes. I am happy to be back here as this one would be my appearance in the Games,'' Vedaant told the Khelo India Media.
''I don't really like to have the title of being R. Madhavan's son. I want to create my own identity and my competitors respect me for who I am,'' the star son had often said in his interviews earlier. There is no special treatment waiting for him in the Dubai academy, where he trains with elite swimmers like Olympian Sajjan Prakash and Tanish George Matthew.
It was the 2021 Jr Aquatic Nationals in Bengaluru where he first created a splash at the competitive level by bringing home a staggering seven medals for Maharashtra – four of them silver in 800m freestyle, 1500m freestyle, 4 x 100m freestyle relay and 4 x 200m freestyle relay events and three bronze medals in 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle events.
Last year, Vedaant's career graph took a major step forward when he scooped up two international medals for India in Danish Open – a 800m freestyle gold and 1500m silver. In both events, he had managed to lower his timings – 17 seconds in 1500m and about 11 seconds in the golden effort in 800m.
''It was quite a satisfying but I see them as small milestones to my ultimate goal of making to the Olympics. They make me feel that I am proceeding towards the big goal slowly but steadily,'' he said in an interview after the medals.
The swimming events, meanwhile, has a second TOPS athlete in the field in Ridhima Veerendrakumar of Karnataka.