Mohammed Anees is the only swimmer in Lakshadweep's tiny contingent at the Khelo India Youth Games. However, it doesn't deter him or make him feel lonely to travel to competitions. Ever since he fell in love with swimming, he is spending hours on the rough seas, practising his art, hoping to become one of India's top swimmers someday.
"We train all our swimmers in the Arabian Sea. It is pretty rough and you require great skill and courage to go out there every day," said Ahmed Jawan Hassan, the chef de mission of the Lakshadweep contingent here for the Khelo India Youth Games, said.
Anees is one of the many young athletes from Lakshadweep who aspire to someday turn out for India. But unlike others in the country, he has to train in makeshift facilities.
"We are small in every sense of the word, from our state, which consists of just 36 islands and covers 32 sq km, to our team here," Ahmed Jawan laughed.
Their 13-member team includes 12 athletes, other than the lone Anees. The six boys and girls practice on a small ground in Kavaratti.
Recently, work has begun for a 400m synthetic track. "Once it is completed, we could expect many more to join this group of boys and girls,'' Hassan added.
For now, every time they need to compete in major events, like the Nationals or Khelo India Games, they travel to Ernakulum to practice where a synthetic track is available.
"That is the best we can do. Yet, our athletes are winning medals. Mubassina Mohammed brought glory to the island by winning a gold medal in javelin and a bronze in the long jump in the 32nd South Zone Under-14 Athletics Championship. Munsira Muneer captured gold while Nihala clinched silver in the same meet."
It might not be long before Mohammed Anees will soon company them when he travels for championships.