Kelapanda Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar, the two 22-year-olds from Chennai, endured a roller-coaster ride to finish with bronze in the men’s 49er sailing event at the recently concluded Asian Games.
In an email interview with Kodagu Connect, Kelapanda Ganapathy, with Kodagu roots, speaks about his entry into sailing and future plans.
How did you first get involved with sailing?
I first started sailing when I was around six years old. One of my classmates’ dad took some of our classmates on a sailing trip and I just loved the experience. There has been no looking back for the last 16 years. It has been a long journey but it’s just the beginning.
How did it feel winning bronze medal for India at Asian Games?
It was one of the proudest moments of my life. Only regret was being not able to win the gold because we couldn’t execute some of our plans as we had planned before the race.
How did you train and prepare for Asian Games?
A year back I had a shoulder surgery, so I had only six months to prepare for the Asian Games. We spent a lot of time training in Europe. I would especially like to mention our coaches Bunny Warren, Jyrki Jarvi, Alain and Champy who were of great support, and special thanks to Jonas Warrer who was with us at the Asian Games. We couldn’t have achieved anything without these amazing people.
What are your future plans?
Our plan is to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. I don’t look too far into the future because life can change in a flash in a day. My ultimate goal is to win an Olympic gold.
Who is your sailing hero?
I admire many achievers, but I don’t have a hero as such. I really admire my mother’s strength and grit in the face of adversity when my father passed away. She allowed me to pursue my dream. I really admire my parents and I grateful to them. In a way they are my heroes.
Is this a long-lasting partnership with Varun for future events?
Yes, Varun Thakkar and I are in it for good. He is like my brother and I could not have done it without him.
What is your advice to young sailing enthusiasts keen to follow your footsteps?
My advice would be to really enjoy the process and play sport because you love it. If you have a good system and work hard, 100 percent you will do well. Most important thing is to surround yourself with people who truly believe in you.
Tell us something about your family and your connection to Kodagu?
Even though my dad and mom are from Kodagu, I haven’t spent much time there. Kodagu is one of my favourite places and I am grateful I can also call it my home.