'Been in touch with water for a long time:' Sailor Vishnu Saravanan sees Tokyo 2020 as a launching platform!

Subedar Vishnu Saravanan is the youngest Indian sailor to qualify for Tokyo 2020
By Samrat Chakraborty

Sailing is in the genes of Tokyo-bound Vishnu Saravanan. His father, Subedar Major Ramachandran Saravanan (retired), taught him the ropes of the discipline while his sister Ramya is also a sailor.

Interestingly, Vishu's sibling competes in the Laser Radial Class event. However, unlike her brother, she failed to make the cut for Tokyo 2020 during the recently held Mussanah Open Sailing Championship in Oman.

To advance to Tokyo 2020 is a significant feat for Subedar Vishnu, who competes in the Laser Radial class, but the historic achievement is even more special for his father and his family.

"When I qualified (in Oman) for Tokyo 2020, I was busy (with the media interviews). I had to pack my baggage and couldn't call home," the sailor recalled.

"Later, when I spoke, my father cried. I never saw dad cry. It was a great achievement for him. (My father is) living his dream through me. I was very touched.

"But he told me, 'the job is not done as this was the first step and an Olympic medal remains to be achieved'," he added.

His father, a sailor with the Madras Sappers, introduced Vishnu to the sport at the age of nine. And Vishnu was a natural right from the off.

"I had no fear. Touching the water and feeling it; it was quite impressive," Vishnu said. "After shifting to Mumbai, I loved it and sailed in a small boat and kept learning something new every time.

"I have been in touch with water from a young age. In 2010-11, I won the national championship. Later, I was selected in the national squad and I was always a fast learner," he added.

Vishnu Saravanan in action

Vishnu, 22, will be the youngest of the four Indian sailors set to participate at the Tokyo 2020 Games. His coach Alexandr Denisiuc and mentor Trevor Millar, founder of the Sail Coach Academy in Malta, have closely worked with him since 2018.

To prepare himself for Tokyo 2020, he plans to return back to training in Malta, and participate in regattas to keep himself mentally prepared for the Games.

"I started training under them in 2018. Alexandr Denisiuc is working with me, my training and technique. We have learnt a lot together," Vishnu said.

"Trevor Miller is my mentor. He handles the psychology part. Planning to go back to training with the best (sailors). I improve by watching them as well. I will sail in some regattas to keep myself mentally prepared for Tokyo 2020," he added.

It is however, the 2024 and 2028 Olympics where Vishnu is targeting a podium finish, after gaining experience from Tokyo 2020.

"I want to finish in top 50 per cent. It will be great to finish in the top 10. It will help me get funding for my 2024 and 2028 (Olympics) podium aim. It will be good to have the experience (from Tokyo)," he said.