Sakshi Pandey says to wear the jersey which imprints those 5 magical letters ‘INDIA’ is a vital part in an athlete’s life. She represented 19 times at the National Championship & thrice represented India. The win against the unbeatable Chhattisgarh girls is the most enduring moment in her life and she was the top scorer of the tournament.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would like to be a citizen of any other country which has some respect to the athletes for the hard work they do. No offense to India, but each one of us is unaware about the sports people in our country, but only for cricket the scenario is different.
What is your practice routine like?
My practice hours start right from morning 6am to 9:30am and evening session is from 04:30 to 08:30pm. During the time of our important tournaments we do have our afternoon sessions for extra shooting.
What’s the first thing you do when you get home from tour?
Frankly speaking after getting back from tournament, I will be really exhausted. I would eat a lot of home food, which I love to do.
If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of another athlete, who would it be?
I would like to wake up and be LeBron James for a day. Despite of facing so much of criticism, he never gives up and he never gave up. His team efforts and team spirit can’t be defined. And now if I would be James one day, I would like to achieve more MVP in the NBA. (like for almost every championship)
One habit that you want to break?
When tired, I am the rudest person anyone would have ever met. Not intentionally, but I do disrespect people when tired. (Obviously that’s not a habit which anyone would be wanting) So I would like to change my habit of doing that.
What drives you go for training every day?
That would sound like a dramatic line, but that’s true in my case. There is going to be someone, somewhere, practicing to be better than me. Of course there would be great players for our country. These lines and these thoughts is a great player for our country which makes me motivated to train harder every day.
Any rituals you follow
Not as such ritual which is different but I guess each and every single player would be doing that. Of course I pray to god to give my best of my game, before entering the court.
One match that you are very proud of
Yes, the win against the unbeatable Chhattisgarh girls’ team was one of the best games I have ever played. Of course I was the top scorer of the tournament. The selectors, other team members, my coach, everyone appreciated me for the match I played.
What does it mean to you to represent India?
It means everything to me. The hard work, the sacrifices, the heartbreaking loss, the overwhelming victories, the fun before and after the matches, the friendship, everything which either I have gained or given up. Representing INDIA, having your jersey with those five magical letters written, can’t be described. It is just Awesome.
Your ultimate achievement?
My ultimate achievement is to be a part of the Olympics basketball team one day. Not with any other but the country INDIA.
How will you want to be known in 10 years from now?
I just want those young players coming especially to the court to watch me play. I just want the younger generation to sit and say I just want to be like Sakshi Didi.
Area of your game you need to improve?
Improving my weak hand is the part of my game which I feel should improve.
Who do you want to be the flag bearer for India in ‘TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020’?
Of course my first choice is myself but to be practical I would want Saina Nehwal to be the flag bearer.
Initial hurdles you faced and how did you tackle them?
The first and the foremost hurdle for every athlete is the pressure to be good at studies as well. I was quite lucky on that part as my parents were quite supportive of that. But anyways I had to study and score good marks especially in the board examination. So I managed it by reducing or eliminating the time apart from practicing & studying.
Perks of being an athlete
Being an athlete our brain is very much active, having not able to study for the whole year but during the time of exams when we study our brain being active catches more easily.
Your first match for India
First of all having to wear a jersey with those 5 letters (INDIA) written over it, was marvelous. The first match representing our country was carried out by everything which our country holds. The knowledge of sports we have, the experience we shared, the maturity we had of playing for the country, everything.
If you could get a tattoo, what would it be?
Of course a basketball tattoo. That could be anywhere, either on my hand or on my calfskin.
One subject you like and one you hate the most
The most hated subject is Mathematics, which holds in my case as well. The most favorite subject is geography (not the deep geography about the places, but a little less than just deeper).
Best sports movie ever. Why?
I just don’t watch movies, but having been asked about the best sports movies till now I have watched is to be CHAK DE INDIA.
Your short and long term goals
My Short term goals are just the ones to be at regular practice to not to lose my tempo of the game. And yes as per the long term goals I have a little longer list, I want to be a part of railways where I get to play also and also do job. Representing the Indian railways in the senior Nationals, getting to be in the senior Women’s Indian team and of possibly be the captain of the team.
“Stop dreaming about it and start working on it”
What’s on your bucket list?
As told earlier, I want to join railways. I want to be the captain of the senior Indian women’s basketball team, explore many places, but with my own earned money.
Your most Embarrassing moment
When the team and coach believed that I will be the one to take my team to a level up but I failed to do that.
One super power you wish you had?
I would want the power of going wherever I want to, at anytime, anywhere to meet anyone.
Who do you think is the greatest Indian athlete of all time?
My favorite and the greatest athlete of India as per me is Milkha Singh. Everyone is aware about the bad times he had faced but still managed to be among the top athlete almost every time.