all the right strokes with mr.sirish gurung
We have come across many different people who have been doing amazing in their own way but we sometimes get lucky enough to actually meet a few people whose passion goes hand in hand with their aim of representing their country. In this Fitness Issue, we aren’t all about a guy lifting heavy objects, but also how other sports may help you staying fit and healthy both physically and mentally. The respective sport we are talking about here is swimming and the athlete is Mr. Sirish Gurung who represented our country in the 2016 Olympics. With us, he opens up about his career in swimming, and shares his advice for hopefuls who wish to dive into the sport.
AND WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO TAKE IT PROFESSIONALLY AS WELL?
I used to be a very curious child; moreover, I would like to say hyperactive. I was always full of energy and because of that i was always running around and couldn’t stay still. My parents thought it would be better if I utilized that energy in a sport so they registered me to lots of other sports and activities other than swimming. Well, me being me, I did all the wrong things and didn’t follow rules because I was a free spirit. Becasue of that, I used to run away from training sessions.
After a while, my parents grew tired and thought swimming would be better because I couldn’t run away naked, and if I mess up I would drown. When I was 5 years old, my coach then decided to make me participate in a local game and I won the trophy of the Youngest Swimmer. After that, I got a lot of positive attention. I participated in more tournaments and won in many other categories. And at the age of 7 I got to swim with national players and I just got hooked on it.
Until the year 2008, I wasn’t taking my training seriously. I had not participated in a big way. I also played other sports. After sometime, the seniors that trained with us were selected for the Beijing Olympics. Seeing that, I was determined that I wanted to participate in the Olympics in the future. And 8 years later was in the Rio Olympics.
That’s when I realized that I want to make swimming my full time career. And not just me, I guess the athletes would love it if their career could sustain a normal lifestyle but unfortunately we can’t. That is why I always had to study to have a plan in the case of being a sportsman wasn’t enough. For the future, I do want to be in this industry for a long time, but in a slightly different way. I am going for further studies and majoring in athlete injuries and muscle therapy so I hope to do something with it.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE RIO OLYMPICS IN 2016?
It was amazing; it is a period of my life that I am extremely proud and grateful. The energy and atmosphere surrounding the games was unreal. I understood how special it is, and to be there was really an honor.
TELL US ABOUT SWIMMING AND FITNESS?
As your muscles are getting a good workout, your cardiovascular system is too. Swimming makes your heart and lungs strong. Swimming may even help reduce some of your pain or improve your recovery from an injury. Whether it’s work stressing you out, or just life in general, we all get times we of low. Swimming regularly can lower those stress levels, reduce anxiety, and depression, and improve your sleep patterns. No matter what your fitness level, the general benefits of swimming are always keeping you in a right state.
WHAT IS YOUR PLAN FOR THE FUTURE?
I’d like to see how far I can take this. And how fast I can go. I have to get really technical about this. What you do in practice has to be very specific and catered towards what you want to do at the end of the year. I find a lot of joy in trying to make little tweaks here and there to make that as efficient as possible. So being a sportsman and an athlete of Nepal, I want to see a lot of good things happen in sports here. Yes, the government aspect is always there, where they could be more supportive, but there are many doctors who don’t specialize in athlete health. For example if an athlete goes to a doctor with a headache, he will be prescribed with the same medicine as anyone else, which might not be the same case because the headache might be something very different and the cause might be different as an athlete’s body is a little different with years of training and diet. So my plan is to go to the States and study sports medicine and get back to Nepal to contribute in that way.
A LITTLE MORE HELP FROM THE GOVERNMENT, A LITTLE MORE HELP FROM THE CITIZENS TO SHOW APPRECIATION FOR ATHLETES MIGHT BE A START. I WAS FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO GO TO THE OLYMPICS, BUT IT IS A LOT OF COST AND SOME ATHLETES WHO DESERVE TO BE THERE MIGHT NOT BE ABLE TO PAY FOR THAT FROM THEIR OWN POCKETS. I THINK THEY SHOULD BE GIVEN A LITTLE MORE FOCUS AND PRIORITY.
WHAT DO YOU THINK SHOULD BE DONE TO PROMOTE SWIMMING AS A SPORT HERE?
Nepalese swimmers are not even anywhere near the ‘A’ qualifying mark for the Olympics. We are not up to that standard yet. That requires a lot of other things. To come to that level, you need better facilities, assistance from all corners, a lot more funding and a lot more support. If you have to compare our swimmers with those from the countries that make the semifinals and finals of Olympics, you have to also compare all the facilities and support that those swimmers receive. We are nowhere near any of them. A little more help from the government, a little more help from the citizens to show appreciation for athletes might be a start. I was fortunate enough to go to the Olympics, but it is a lot of cost and some athletes who deserve to be there might not be able to pay for that from their own pockets. I think they should be given a little more focus and priority.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT TOOK TO GET WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW? AND WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO PEOPLE WHO WANT TO TAKE SWIMMING AS A PROFESSION?
I know I might have achieved a few things but this is nothing compared to where I want to reach. It might be a lot but you need to enjoy the grind and the process. You need to take care of yourself, especially when you get older because for us athletes 35 is the age that we retire, and make sure that you are putting healthy, nutritious food in your body on a regular basis. Also, try to avoid injury.
WORDS: SHREEYA SANGROULA | PHOTOS: GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR | LOCATION: DHANYENEARY SWIMMING POOL, HADIGAUN