Shraddha Sudhir’s first venture for India was at the World School games in Poland. To wear the Indian jacket and compete with the other countries is something that every athlete would dream of. She has bagged 300 medals and still counting to her medal tally. She showed the forte that God has bestowed up on to the world, when she represented India at the world school games in Poznan, Poland, the South Asian Games in Guwahati, South Asian Aquatic Championship in Colombo, Srilanka and The Asian Swimming Championship at Tokyo, Japan.
Any rituals you follow
Before a competition I always go to a temple. Not just any temple, but a particular temple near my grandma’s house because it reminds me of her and makes me feel her presence and gives me more strength.
One race that you are very proud of
The time when I won gold in 50 free style at the Junior Nationals. These were my last junior nationals and I had a bad knee injury right before that. I had multiple ligament tears and I had almost withdrawn from these nationals. 50 free was not even my main event, but I decided to swim only 3 events which were not even my main events. With just 5 days of swimming before my nationals, I raced the 50 free and I got the gold in that event. Nobody expected this from me, but I did it! I am very proud of that race!
What does it mean to you to represent India?
To wear the Indian jersey is a very proud moment for me. Having India written on your back is carrying the country’s fame and glory on your back! It is a great responsibility but also an honor. To see the Indian flag When standing on the podium and singing the national anthem is a very emotional moment!
If You Could Change One thing about yourself, what would it be?
The competitive nature that I have when I swim I will take into class. I tend to be very competitive outside the racing environment, which I think I should change.
What is your practice routine like?
When I was in Bangalore, my practice time would be from 5.30 AM to 8 AM from Monday to Saturday and 5 to 8 PM was the second round of my practice. I would gym from 3-5 PM every day. Wednesdays and Sundays were off.
Here, in US, I swim from 1:30-3:30 PM Monday to Friday and 6-7:30 AM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. We gym and do dryland on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-5:30 and Saturdays from 9-11.
What’s the first thing you do when you get home from tour?
When I get back to home after tournament I Sleep a lot, eat home food, especially rasam rice and play with my dog!
If you could wake up tomorrow in the body of another athlete, who would it be?
I would wake up in Katinka Hosszu’s body just to see what it feels like to be a multiple world record holder and why it is to be called the Iron Lady. I would also swim all the events back to back just to see what it feels like being her.
One habit that you want to break or you have broken?
I had the habit of giving up easily and the first thing I would say for everything was “I can’t”. I have gotten over that now and put my heart and soul into everything, even those that seem impossible.
What drives you to go for training every day?
One attribute is my dreams. I love my dreams and I want to make them come true. Wanting to stand on the Olympic podium with the Indian flag high, is another. Further, my parents, who have put in so much effort for me.
Your ultimate achievement?
My ultimate achievement would be to win a medal for India at the Olympics and hold world records in my name.
How will you want to be known in 10 years from now?
I want be known as the girl who never gave up and went after her dreams in spite of all the obstacles. I can achieve it, in spite of thinking I couldn’t.
Area of your game do you think you need to improve?
Everything, and positive thinking. There is always room for improvement.
Who do you want to be the flag bearer for India in ‘TOKYO OLYMPICS 2020’
Anyone who truly deserves it. But I would love to see a swimmer be the flag bearer one day!
Initial hurdles you faced and how did you tackle them?
I have heard a lot of people telling me I was not strong enough physically and mentally to compete and a lot of people who said I would not be successful. It was my parents who helped me get over what others say and motivated me. It just meant working twice as harder, and I enjoyed it.
Perks of being an athlete
Having always a fit body! Being able to eat a lot and sleep a lot! Also, being able to focus and zone out when needed. Also, we learn time management like no other!
Your secret skills?
I am a Taekwondo black belt and a Bharatanatyam junior level dancer! I also love to write!
Best sports movie ever. Why?
Dangal because of the way the Phogat sisters came up in spite of all the obstacles and Chakde India because of the Team India spirit that movie has!
My short-term goal is to qualify for the NAIA National championship and win a medal for my university here in USA and to get a few medals at the National games in India. My long-term goal is to represent India at the world championships, Asian games, Commonwealth games and of course the Olympics and win medals at these levels.
Your plans & preparations for TOKYO 2020
I am working hard on qualifying for the 2020 Olympics. I know that it is going to be very hard, but that does not stop me from aiming for it. I am currently training here in US under my university swim coach and he is hoping that I will get better and stronger!
Scariest experience you have ever had?
Racing my last Junior Nationals right after my knee injury. No one including my doctor, physician, and parents were confident that my knee would take all the stress on it. It meant risking my knee to race those nationals. I was very nervous!
One super power you wish you had, how would you use it?
I wish I had invisible fins that would make me swim faster in the water! I would love that!!
“If you have a goal, strive for it until it’s yours”
Who do you think is the greatest Indian athlete of all time?
I think the greatest Indian athlete of all time would be Mary Kom! Her determination to succeed is something that is out of this world.
My favorite would be Michael Phelps and Katinka Hosszu
Your biggest inspiration
My biggest inspiration is my parents and some of the world-famous athletes. Weird as it sounds, the anchor inspires me to never anchor my dreams and to stay grounded always!
List down all your achievements
I have won 300+ medals. Multiple medals at the state, zonal and national levels. Multiple awards for swimming. I have represented India at the world school games in Poznan, Poland, at the South Asian Games in Guwahati, South Asian Aquatic Championship in Colombo, Srilanka and The Asian Swimming Championship at Tokyo, Japan.
I have bagged 2 golds and 1 silver at the south Asian games in Guwahati, 3 golds 2 silvers and 1 bronze at the south Asian aquatic championship.
Do you hold any record? If yes, what are the records you hold?
I hold a few records at the CBSE national meet in the U-14 and the U-17 categories. I also held records at the south zone swimming championships.
Your World Ranking and National Ranking?
I got the gold in the 400 IM at the Senior Nationals and gold in 50 m freestyle and 200 m breastroke at the Junior Nationals and many other medals at the National and International level.