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    Every child is blessed with some unique quality, says renowned field and track athlete Ashwini Nachappa

    Amitesh Srivastava Amitesh Srivastava 7 Mins Read

    Amitesh Srivastava Amitesh Srivastava

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    Written by Amitesh Srivastava and published on 25 May 2021.

    She once ruled the track and field scene in India with her talent and grit. Renowned athlete and Asian Games medallist Ashwini Nachappa, talks to ParentCircle on all things sports and parenting!

    Every child is blessed with some unique quality, says renowned field and track athlete Ashwini Nachappa

    In the 80s, Ashwini Nachappa was a household name as she went on winning many records and even more hearts. Her triumph was effortless, both on and off the field. In her heyday, Ashwini was compared to the stylish American track and field legend, Florence Griffith Joyner. Even after bidding adieu to her active sports career, Ashwini is as fit as ever and has a lot of spunk.

    Ashwini Nachappa has taken the pledge to participate in #GadgetFreeHour

    ParentCircle talks to Ashwini Nachappa about her sporting days, how sports should be an integral part of children's lives, and the future of Indian sports.

    Here are the excerpts from the interview:

    Q. You are one of the most accomplished track and field athletes India has ever had. How did it all begin?

    A. While I was growing up in Bengaluru, our house was situated near a stadium that had an athletic track. My mother wouldn't allow us to play on the streets. she used to take us to the stadium to play instead. She would give me a nutritious sweet for every lap I ran, so basically it was all about collecting more sweets for me! That's how my journey started. B

    ack then, there was a coach, Mohinder Singh Gill. He was one of the finest coaches in India, and all the top athletes were training under him. He too used to bribe us with sweets to run, so I would end up collecting a lot of sweets. My name also means horse so I was probably born to run!

    Q. Which is that one moment in your career that stands out and you would like to revisit?

    A. Well, my very first National Games representing Karnataka. when I was 12 years old. I took part in 100m and 60m hurdles for my state. My first event was the 60m hurdles, and I qualified for the finals. In the finals, I was leading but fell down at the last hurdle and couldn't win a medal.

    That day I cried my heart out. The next day was my 100m finals, I ran and came first. I still remember the then chief minister of Karnataka giving me a cheque for INR 1,000 in that category. After that, there was no looking back.

    Q. You have donned many hats in your life till now. You're an athlete, actress, educationist, and social worker. Which role do you prefer the most?

    A. Well, every role has been challenging and every role has its ups and downs. However, I always like to be known as an athlete first. Because of athletics, I got offers for films. it gave me a job and recognition. So, I want to be known as an athlete first and foremost. Of course, I am equally passionate about my other pursuits.

    Q. Today, there is so much pressure on children to score well in exams that sports have been relegated to the background. What are your thoughts on this?

    A. I think academics is been given too much priority. Somehow, I find it hard to digest because I am a product of school sports. To see children busy only with studies and not enjoying sports is very disheartening. Sports must become a way of life. Awareness about the importance of physical fitness is still very less. Education and sports should be integrated, sport is not just about playing in the field.

    Right from the Montessori level, it is all about learning coordination, playing with fingers, playing in the mud, etc. Those are the things we need to emphasize. You need to be outdoors with your children, that's how the child will develop skills for life. It's not about the 95% or 100% marks your child gets. But I am happy that our new education policy has given the scope for children to get back to sports at a more serious level.

    Q. Do you feel that too much use of gadgets is contributing to unhealthy lifestyles and diseases in children?

    A. Of course, our kids are becoming socially isolated, interaction is less, and Google has all the answers to everything. We have almost forgotten our letter-writing skills and spellings, too. We are dependent on gadgets, even for basic things. In every house, everyone owns and uses gadgets.

    Recently, I watched a documentary, The Social Dilemma. I think everybody must watch that to see how we are ruining our lives because of social media. We all have to make a conscious decision to limit its use. We, as parents, must think about where we are headed.

    Q. In the current scenario, where staying indoors is a must, is there any way kids can indulge in physical activity without having to go outdoors?

    A. See, the fact is it's been over seven months. No matter how much you try, it's hard to contain any child indoors for so long, as there is a saturation point. Because of that, there are lots of other issues. Everybody is talking about mental health, obesity, and anxiety. These issues concern not only adults but also children.

    So, it's important to get over the fear of the pandemic. We need to start working on our immunity. We cant improve our immunity by just sitting inside. Eventually, we have to all come out of that fear. We need to stop talking about the number of deaths and, instead, focus on recovery.

    Q. As a social worker and educationist, you have set up a school. How important is education today for children to succeed?

    A. It depends on what kind of education we are talking about. Today, we want students to be smart to face the outside world. It's very different from how we grew up. The goal must be to equip children such that they know their way around. Of course, education is important, but I think it should also focus on personality development.

    Q. You are the president of the Bangalore Urban District Athletic Association. Do you see any changes in the condition of Indian athletes over the years? How can parents inspire children to follow a career in athletics?

    A. Well, back in those days, we didn't have gadgets or vehicles. We had to walk to reach schools or stadiums. Times have changed, now sports get better publicity. While there is the availability of all types of equipment and sports gear, I feel the kind of drive that is required when you are playing a sport is lacking. Students should not expect results overnight. If you are good, you need to invest time with 100% dedication to the sport.

    However, parents don't want to waste so much time, even if the child is doing well. Education and sports should go hand in hand. We need to build that kind of structure and platform. Both parents and children should know how to climb the ladder from the Zila Panchayat level to the national level. If that clarity is made available, I am sure many will come forward.

    Q. Is there any realistic chance of an athlete leading India to the Olympic podium?

    A. We do have chances in shooting, but in track and field, it's very difficult as of now.

    Q. Your message to the readers of ParentCircle on parenting, the importance of physical activity for kids, and letting kids choose their path in life.

    A. I think physical fitness is for everybody young and old. We must dedicate at least 45-50 minutes of our time every day to fitness, and also give some time to ourselves. Health is most important, as a fit mind is found in a fit body. Every parent must encourage their child's talents, don't just focus on marks alone. Every child is blessed with some unique quality, and we need to identify that.

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