India won 4 medals in Wushu in the Asian Games 2018, one of the best tally for any sport. We were fortunate enough to interview Amandeep Singh, who has made India proud winning Bronze medal in the 8th International Wushu Championship held in Georgia, 2015.
Here is the excerpts from Sportnasha’s interview with Amandeep Singh about Wushu and his view on currrent state of sports in India.
1. What prompted you to turn sports into your profession? (You may highlight any of memories from your childhood which promoted you)
It all began in 2008 at Hiramani school when I got into sports like wrestling, judo and boxing. I later moved on to explore weightlifting and powerlifting as well. Of course! Back then I didn’t look at it very professionally and sports was merely something I enjoyed. However, when Wushu happened to me, that’s where the switch took place. I got more serious about my sport and took up courses related to fitness, nutrition, etc. and I believe all of that contributed in making me not only better at my sport but also gave me the ability to be a trainer and a coach. Now after 35 medals in 5 different sports , working as a physical fitness educator at Global Indian International school and honoured to be the brand ambassador of Samurai Fitness, I spend most of my time around kids and train them with a vision to keep representing India on a global platform.
2. How did your family, extended family and your friends react upon your decision?
My family has always been very supportive. They kept reminding me that no matter what I decide to take up as my career, there is no alternative to hardwork. They have always been a part of my struggle and kept me motivated at all times. My Coach Mr. Badrinath Pandey had such a strong belief in my capability as a sportsman that he insisted I keep working hard because I think he saw something in me before I could see it in myself. Whatever I have achieved is all by the grace of Waheguru ji, my grandfather (Subedar Major Rawel Singh), my father (Capt. Jaswinder Singh) and my coach (Mr. Badrinath Pandey).
3. Did Money (Financial support) came as a hurdle to you while you pursued your interest?
When you take up a sport as your profession it demands a certain investment in things like your training, kits, nutrition, etc. I remember having a monthly diet of 20k which can get a little expensive but as I said my family never let that stop me from pursuing my dream. Cash prizes from the sikh community kept proving to be a financial aid and I think all I did was keep working and never letting all these people down.
4. How would you rate the government’s support to sports in terms of financial aid, facilities and trainers (coaching)? And what would be the reason for your rating?
I think ever since Rathore Sir has been appointed as the Union Sports Minister we see Indian government taking interest in sports and promoting it. Unfortunately, not much has been done for sports in the past. If asked to rate, I would say Gujarat is 2.5 out of 5 as far as government support in combat sports is concerned. There is a lack of infrastructure, qualified coaches, very little training exposure, lack of financial support, etc. In my opinion, the politics seeping into sports is a major reason for this but we are all hoping for things to change.
5. You must have seen athletes/ sportspersons from across the world, what is it that differentiating factor that keeps Indian sportsperson away from the podium in most of the sports?
I think Indian athletes are as good as athletes from anywhere across the world. We are equally tough and hardworking. Although, as I mentioned earlier, infrastructure, coaching, government support, foreign exposure, etc are some things that athletes from our country are still struggling with. But things are changing, we see Indians making us proud at world championships, Olympics, Asian games, commonwealth games, etc. I won’t deny that we still have a long way to go but we will get there.
6. Is there anything you think that you or others (family, friends, government) could have done to improve your past performances and any suggestion to them for your future career path?
I feel the state government could have done many things to promote Wushu and other combat sports in our state, that would encourage more players to perform at national and international levels. Young talented Wushu coaches in SAG could be appointed, Infrastructure could have been made available to Wushu players , awareness about this sport would give it the much deserved respect. Also, Wushu should have been included in Scholarship Schemes of State governments.
7. Considering Wushu is not as popular as other martial arts, how were you introduced to Wushu? And to win medals at International level, what kept you going and motivated?
I beg to differ in opinion, Wushu is popular with 37 team across India participating every year in National tournaments. It is a part of Asian games, South Asian games, Asian Championship, National Games, School Games, Pyakka Rural Games, Khelo India Games, Sports Authority of India, CBSE School games, National institute of Sports, World championships, Lusofonia Games, Bricks games, Indian Army, Indian Air Force, ITBP, CRPF, SSCB, SSB, All India police Control board, Assam Rifles etc. So, the sport in itself is popular but awareness in the masses in missing.
I was introduced to Wushu by my coach Mr Badrinath Pandey(NIS Coach & National Games Judge) in the year 2010. I was part of Indian National Team which participated in Georgia international Wushu Championship in 2015 and won bronze medal for India just at the age of 18 years. As far as motivation is concerned, support from the Sikh Community, my Family, my Relatives, Friends and Coaches kept encouraging me to win for my state and of course for my nation.
8. If not Wushu player, what alternate career you would have chosen?
If not a Wushu player, then I would have been a boxer or a Powerlifter. I was always inclined to sports and really enjoyed both of these.
9. What are views about our motto – ‘More Rackets and Less Gadgets’?
Your motto is self-explanatory. One should get into real sports rather than just playing them virtually on your gadgets. I would like to congratulate team Sportsnasha for coming up with this inspiring motto for the youth.
10. What would be your message for the younger generation?
My only message is that Stay Away from Drugs and choose any sport that you think can help you overcome your problems. Always follow these 4 D’s in your life: Discipline, Desire, Dedication and Determination. Pick a sport, play, excel and sky is the limit.
Interview by Swanand Phadke
Edited by – Haineel Shah