Sabarish Bharadwaj (4th year, Aerospace Engineering Dept.) chronicles his journey from being a beginner to an Inter-IIT gold medalist in Weightlifting, also giving insights about the general scene at Inter-IIT.
It all started on my 2nd day in insti, during “interaction” sessions with some seniors. I told them I was interested in bodybuilding. They asked me take my shirt off and pose like a bodybuilder. While the ensuing festivities also included stuff like dancing, they told me there was something called Weightlifting and suggested that I should probably try to get into that NSO. I contacted our hostel sports secretary who introduced me to someone; I was asked to turn up in the gym the next day, and there, I was very lucky to be introduced to the insti captain Jumper (Ashith Paulson). There were “Workout 101” sessions for a while, and then some Weightlifting-specific fundaes. I put a lot of enthu into it and eventually was selected for NSO Weightlifting.
I attended every insti practice session from my first sem. In the beginning, I was also attending the ‘hapkido’ (martial art) classes, but Jumper eventually persuaded me to leave it; I spent almost all my evenings either in insti Weightlifting practice or working out in the gym (and this included quiz weeks). Sandeep (Moot) and Balaji were two of my friends in the same NSO. The bunch of us got a lot of encouragement from our seniors in my first year, and that was a motivation: I won gold in my first Schroeter, beating the closest competitor, a 3rd year guy, by 15kg.
From that point, there was no turning back. And by “no turning back”, I mean this: Golds in Weightlifting Schroeter 09, 10, 11. ‘Best Lifter’ in Weightlifting Schroeter 09, 10. Golds in Powerlifting 09, 10, 11. ‘Strong Man’ in Powerlifting 10, 11, 12. Golds in Weightlifting in Inter-IIT 10, 11. ‘Best Lifter’ in Inter IIT 2011. And to add to all that, Gold to the team in inter-IIT 2011 when I was the captain.
What began like “I’m good at this, I’ll do this” turned into love for the sport, a sort of addiction. In my first semester, every small improvement in my lifts would make me very happy; every time I screwed up a lift, I’d get very frustrated. Whether it helped acads or not, I did well in my first semester (and pretty much every one since). Weightlifting serves me as a great equalizer. Some people go to temples, some peace out with friends, I hit the gym. Even if I had a totally crappy day, I’d go to the gym and start lifting. While working out, I’d have to focus so much that I’d totally forget about any and all painful things. In the end I’d be too exhausted to be sad or frustrated about anything.
Every day was a new challenge, a new adventure. I didn’t have to go trekking or sky-diving, because my challenge was right there in the gym, in attempting to lift a weight I might not be able to lift, in fighting it out. My circle of friends changed. My basic values in life changed too, but I prefer not to write about it here. Sometime in first sem, I stopped eating rice totally and had only rotis. I did not play other sports. People started identifying me as a Weightlifter.
Inter IIT 2008 came, and it was hosted by IITM. I associate each inter IIT with a different characteristic theme. 2008 was when I was a beginner, a little kid in the team among all the big guys. I was no way near the InterIIT standards at the time and consequently there were no expectations on me at all. Right from the day after end sems till inter IIT starts, we had what was called the “Main Camp”. All we do is eat and practice. We practiced only on alternate mornings and all evenings, for about 2 hours per session. The rest of the time we’d be totally jobless. The Inter-IIT mess food was probably the best part of camp. Moot wasn’t in the insti team since he had to attend his grandfather’s funeral. I decided not to control my diet and went up to the next weight category, to under 62kg from under 56kg (In retrospect, I think that was a bad decision- I had a good chance of getting a bronze in under 56kg class ). I guess I came 8th in 10 competitors in the under 62kg class. Then there were Jumper and Koted who put Gold and Silver in their categories and the team won Silver (thanks to Bombay for thulping in all other categories and denying medals to our other competitors). Though I contributed little to the team in that event, I was inspired by the performances of my seniors. I knew I wanted to win gold the next year. All my seniors, especially Jumper, were expecting me to “break inter IIT records”.