For all those who think aisa sirf movies me hota hai, here is Rahul Jhajharia,JJ as he is commonly known, for you. 4 Gold medals (800m, 1500m, 5000m, 4*400m relay) in his maiden Inter IIT appearance. But there is more to his story than just these medals. It’s a story of passion towards the sport, dedication towards practice and devotion to one’s Guru.
Excerpts from his interview:
AS : I heard you had not won any medals in any of the competitions so far, and as far as I know, you had not participated in any major tournaments and sports meet till this Inter IIT. How did this transformation, from a little- known athlete to a record setting champion, happen?
JJ : I did participate in 1500m in Sportech, yaar. Finished 5th among 8 participants. Everyone defeated me. No matter how filmy this sounds, I sat alone and cried for an hour or so, promising myself that I will win the 1500m this inter IIT, no matter what. I had to prove myself, that was it. I had no second thoughts in my mind. For everything else, coach Neeraj Chaudhary sir was always by my side. He worked hard on me and I religiously followed his workout schedule.
Tried Diet Control but my weight remained constant more or less. So, I focused just on my fitness and workout. Also, in the summer break, I practiced daily with some students preparing for Army. It helped in maintaining the regularity in the two month long break ,and as you see, things did fall in place once I got back here.
AS : Jaswinder Singh (Jassi) from Kanpur went to the games as the favorite in middle long category. Did you have any special strategy for him?
JJ: Jassi is a great athlete, no doubt. I had heard about him. Though I did not go for Spardha, I came to know he clocked 2:00 in 800m. Even I thought he would win 800m as it was better than my personal best. He again clocked the same in the Heats, and I became pretty sure of it again. Though I was pretty confident of 1500m, things were dicy for me till the finals when Neeraj Sir came to me and asked me for just on thing, “JJ, hara de sardar ko”. Coach sir had never asked me for anything. Now that he had said it, IT HAD TO BE! At any cost. And I did defeat him in a photo finish, clocking 1:58:13. 1500 was my event and I got the gold. But again, I had started practicing for 5000m just a few months, so I was not very sure of 5000m. But all thanks to Shashank, who motivated me and told me to give my best without thinking about the results. And as fate had it, I defeated Jassi for the third time to clinch the gold.
AS: How was the feeling after this well fought victory? Who all do you credit your success to?
JJ: “Superstar waali feel aa Rahi thi yaar”. I had never felt so good in my life. It was a dream come true, to say the least. I got a lot of congratulatory messages from different people. They even congratulated me in the Bathrooms of IITK. I got a lot of friend requests from people, specially Girls :P. On 19th night I went around the hostel thanking everyone who contributed to my win, in any way. But I would specially thank Coach Neeraj Chuadhary sir, VJ sir ( Vijay Kumar Meena) ,Deopuri Sir, Lokesh and Shashank. Without them, it wouldn’t have been possible.