Bhopal, Jan 31 (IANS) Apeksha Fernandes, one of India’s brightest rising stars in swimming, is participating in the Khelo India Youth Games (KIYG) for the second time and believes that this is a great platform as it provides opportunities to showcase one’s potential also giving confidence to the future generation to move forward.
The Mumbai-based swimmer is the first Indian to reach the final of the 200m butterfly event at the Junior World Swimming Championships held in Peru last year. She broke her own national record by clocking 2:19.14 in the final.
She has won a total of 5 gold and one silver medal in the 4th edition of KIYG held at Panchkula. Out of this, her four golds came in 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 200m individual medley and 50m breaststroke and one gold came from the relay competition. Besides, she was also a part of the Silver winning Maharashtra team in the relay competition.
Apeksha, who practiced under the supervision of Mohan Reddy at IIT Mumbai Swimming Pool and Forest Club Hiranandani, described Khelo India as a very positive platform. She said, “I think it is a great platform for everyone. Even young swimmers participate in this event, so you get a chance to compete with the next generation and that gives you a chance to compete with them. This gives them confidence and a much-needed platform to move forward. It features the best athletes in the country, so you get to know about them and their sport. You learn something from everyone. For every player who takes part in these games it’s a great opportunity.”
Swimming events will be held at Prakash Tarun Pushkar in Bhopal from February 7 to 11. After the Panchkula edition of Khelo India, Apeksha participated in the Junior Nationals held in Odisha and won 6 gold medals including team relay, where she created national record at the junior level in all events.
While preparing for her class 12th exams along with participating in the KIYG, Apeksha, however, will compete in only four individual events this year as she wants to give her best.
The 17-year-old said: “This time I will compete in only four events as I have two events back-to-back as per the schedule. I want to give my best and that’s why this time I will only participate in four individual events. Right now there is a pressure of the board exams also, so I will choose only four events. I have taken this decision on my own. My family has always been with me but I have the right to take decisions in sports matters.”
Apeksha, who idolises Roger Federer and Serena Williams, said that some swimmers from Karnataka may pose a challenge to her but she is ready for it as only when the competition is tough, an athlete can give their best.
Aspiring to be like USA’s Lydia Jacoby and Canada’s Summer McIntosh, teenage swimmers, who won gold medals at the Olympics and World Championships, Apeksha said, “The biggest event next year is the Asian Games which is a target on my mind. I definitely aim to win a medal there, but I will have to train accordingly. It is a short-term goal and I am putting all my efforts towards it. That is the focus now. After that I will plan ahead.”