With more than 200 gold medals and 49 record breaking feats, Sirish Gurung has truly stood out as a young prodigy of Nepal. And, to know more about him and his endeavors, Fr!day went for a conversation with him.
Nineteen-year-old Sirish Gurung was vigorous as a kid, so he was always ready to learn anything that came his way. His involvement in various activities during his childhood days led him to learn swimming with the full motivation and support of his parents that set a track to his journey as a swimmer from the age of five. Even though little Sirish did not train ruthlessly, his eagerness towards training grew more after he was presented an award for being the youngest swimmer in a global tournament. Winning that trophy was a fresh start to his life as a swimmer, which inspired him to enter more competitions. Then, the victory run continued for Sirish, and multiple awards boosted him to move forward in his life.
He was firstly entitled as a record breaker after he broke a 28-year-old record. It was definitely a new chapter in the pages of Nepal's swimming history. Well, this is not the only reason that earned him a name as a record breaker; he broke five more records in two days in the National Swimming Association Cup championships. When asked what really helped him stand out, he says, "No matter how much you train, you cannot reach where you want unless you are mentally strong. Sometimes, our mind can stop us, but I always stay positive and self-motivated to push myself."
Further inspired by his seniors, who shone as Olympians, Sirish began to slog away at trainings to make his way to the Olympic, and devoted much of his time to improving his performance. To fulfill the dream of being an Olympian, he started to train more sincerely, and after eight years of commitment, his dream came to life. He flew to Rio with his team in 2016, and when asked about his journey, he says "Traveling from Nepal to Rio was terrible, we had an 18-hour-transit, and we slept on the floor at the airport, but as soon as we entered Olympic Village, we got over the misery we had faced. We were filled with the Olympic vibe."
On the day of competition, he was pretty nervous till morning. Having to race with swimmers faster and better than him was a pressure, but some inspiring words from his coach gave him confidence. "There is no point in panicking this moment, you have been trained well, and that will definitely help you to do great; just make your first 50 meters strong," he said. Sirish took that advice very well and he was successful in gaining the eighth position in the 100 m freestyle, breaking another national record in the process.
The Olympic also showered Sirish with memories, as it happened to be a place for him to meet other Nepali athletes from various sport fields, and his most memorable moment was seeing his parents on the parapet waving the Nepali flag with pride after he had broken the national record.
"Since my childhood they have been pushing me, and they have been by my side all the time, be it in trainings or at competitions. That day, I saw a reflection of my victory on their faces, which made me very emotional."
Why wouldn’t they be proud when their son has paid off every moment they've spent by his side? According to Sirish, a motivating home environment is the most important factor for an athlete to succeed. Yes, parents are the engine to our soul, and besides that, an athlete requires a balanced diet, regulation, consistency, and a good bonding with the coach.
After Sirish got back from the Olympics, he started to be more outgoing and more into social life, as before the Olympics. To move out of monotony, he tried a new approach to his life by partying and escaping with his friends. But, gradually, he began to realize that he was getting out of track, and he started to train again. It's obvious that a person with ambition cannot spend their life moving out of their career. It was good to know his vision; after his recent trainings, it is to try for the Asian Games in Indonesia this August.
Sirish hasn’t backed down in music, too. I was truly surprised to know he is brilliant at playing the keyboard and the sarangi, besides nine other instruments. One does not just get to be defined as a prodigy, do they? According to him, music relieves the stress of training, and jamming with friends and composing some melodies has always been a part of his weekends.
If I have to say more about him, he is a young entrepreneur who is running Sirish Foundation to sponsor under-privileged athletes. He established the foundation on May 7, 2017, to help athletes who are struggling financially. They support Nepali athletes for their trainings and nutrition. At present, they are taking care of a wushu player, Nima Gharti Magar, who was a gold medalist at the 2016 South Asian Games. Yes, they uplift these sports people with a hope for their bright future.
The best thing about interacting with him was to see a youngster with such far-sighted vision. He aims to contribute to Nepali sports on the medical side, and is setting up to study sports medicine in the U.S. A. I was moved to see such a young guy so versatile and down-to-earth. He's oriented towards his duty as an athlete to break the stereotypes in sports.