Other Indian swimmers should get the recognition I do: Vedaant Madhavan
Vedaant Madhavan made a splash in international waters and national headlines recently. R Madhavan's son said he takes the added attention as 'any other swimmer', but those like Aneesh Gowda do get overshadowed because of him.
Swimmer Vedaant Madhavan got bitten by the swimming bug after his father - the actor R Madhavan - took him to pools as a leisure activity when he was younger. Now 16 and making the news in his own right with his gold medal at the Danish Open, Vedaant said he does not get distracted by the outside noise that comes with his identity.
"I do get extra attention (because of my father) but I take that as any other swimmer would. I do believe there are others who should also get the same recognition because they are working as hard, if not harder than me," the swimmer told The Bridge on an Instagram live session.
The actor himself tweeted recently that he feels proud to be called 'Vedaant Madhavan's father'.
At the 2022 Danish Open, the younger Madhavan won his biggest international gold medal yet - in 800-metre Freestyle with a timing of 8:17.28. However, earlier this month itself, his Indian teammate Aneesh Gowda also won the gold at the South Africa National Championship 2022 in 800m Freestyle - with a timing of 08:14.45, almost three seconds faster than Madhavan.
The 16-year-old agreed that it's hardly justified that Aneesh didn't even get a fraction of the attention he did.
"Absolutely. He is older than me but we started around the same time, I have a lot of respect for him. Both our progress have been very high, we've been going head to head in junior nationals, senior nationals. He puts in a lot of hard work, I hope we can inspire each other to reach another level completely."
The 16-year-old is seen as one of the best upcoming swimmers in the country, but the younger Madhavan said there are many from his own age-group who still have better timings than him.
"Someone I'm close to, Shoan Ganguly - he is of my age and better than me. He's almost as good as the best swimmers in the country. I look up to Ridhima (Veerendrekumar), Aneesh and many others, it's exciting to try to reach the benchmarks they have set," he said.
Madhavan also added that many of the swimmers in his own age category had it much harder in their initial years of swimming. He said if facilities are provided to more people, there are many who could achieve a lot.
"Some of my teammates trained in rivers and lakes while growing up. Like Swadesh Mondal and Sahil Laskar, who recently won an Asian title in my age group," he said.
Madhavan considers Michael Phelps his top idol, but closer home, he aims to follow the track laid by Sajan Prakash and the like.
"It was a historic moment when Sajan and Srihari Nataraj achieved the A-cut for the Tokyo Olympics. I remember I was training and our coach announced that Sajan had made the cut. Shoan and I felt so motivated that day, we wanted to make the A-cut one day too. Some hours later, Srihari also made the cut," he recounted.
Madhavan said his childhood has differed from most people because of the routine he follows - which involves waking up at 4 am to train before his schoolday begins.
"I have to sacrifice a lot of things, like hours spent watching television or playing video games. But in the end, I'm doing something I love and it's working out well.
"As a kid, I was fascinated by acting because you can be anything - you can act as a marine biologist, scientist. It's interesting (as a profession)... But swimming is my one priority. I love the sport, I'm attached to it," he said.