Vishwaraj Jadeja – A Champion Against All Odds!
Vishwaraj Jadeja, India’s Fastest Long-Distance Ice Speed Skater, has gone on to set world records and put India on the map for Ice Skating. He trains as an elite athlete in the Netherlands and undertakes numerous adventure expeditions related to Ice Skating. In January 2019, Vishwaraj Jadeja set an unofficial world record for the highest 5km distance ice speed skating (the standard Olympic distance), at Lake Tsomoriri in Leh, State of Jammu & Kashmir in India, which happens to be one of the highest frozen lakes in the world at an altitude of 4,500 meters. With 65 other national records, he surely has proven himself as a master of the sport. Some of his notable records would be for the fastest Indian for the 3K, 5K, and 10K long ice distance speed skating. He has also participated in the 2017 Asian Games over all distances. Another record that he holds is competing in over 200 races for India. He also spends a great amount of time on his cycle with the aim of 10,000 km per year as part of his training and fitness program. So what is next on his plate? With these victories in hand he has his eyes on the Winter Olympics in 2022 and other international platforms like the Master’s World Games (2020), the World Winter Games and the Asian Winter Games (2021). He also has a number of international races coming up where he will be representing India. Apart from that, he has his heart set on exploring frozen lakes across the world (between the altitudes of 4,000 meters – 5,500 meters) starting on the home turf.
Here is Vishwaraj Jadeja in a conversation with GOGO Magazine.
1) How did your journey begin?
Growing up in India as a third-generation athlete, I was roller-skating all my life but sadly roller skating did not make it to the Olympics. So, at a point in time, I decided I had to shift my career from roller skating and pursue my dream to be an Olympian and play for my country at the Olympics. Now, Long track ice skating is close enough so I packed my bags and moved to Europe to go ice skating and pursue my dream to represent at Winter Olympics for India.
2) Who has been your inspiration?
My inspiration depends on the phase of my life but there have been a lot of inspirations, Dhyan Chand is one of the basis, Shiva Keshavan for Winter Sports, my aunt who had represented India Krishna Jadeja in 1983 for figure skating at the World Championship and she also made to the hockey team also in the 1980s.
3) Tell us about your journey of shifting from roller skating to ice skating.
So, I have broken the Indian National Record 65 times over the span of these many years and then I kept on improving my personal best over long distances and well participating in Europe and training with the best was one of the reasons why I wanted to move to Europe because there are the best athletes in the world preparing, participating and competing and how can you celebrate only mediocrity when you know when there is something perfect put there.
4) When and how did you set the record of competing in over 200 races for India?
200 races for India has been tough, long and everything you can think can go wrong and it has gone wrong in terms of injuries, lack of funding, lack of support but we are still standing and finished with 4 medals at the Winter Games Master last year. So, it has been a long way and a long way to go.
5) Which has been your most memorable project?
I think ice skating for the first time in the Indian frozen lakes at -30 degrees at Pangong Lake and Tso Moriri Lake which are one of the world’s highest lakes and to be able to go ice skating in my country has been one of the most memorable projects of my life.
6) What are your upcoming projects?
Pursuing long-track ice skating you have to understand that sometimes we don’t have the infrastructure for the sport but still to be existing into the sport has been itself a different sport altogether. If you see the Summer Olympics, we have 7 medals but still, the athletes had to go to training in Europe in spite of India having the best infrastructure for some sports in the world.
7) What advices would you give to aspiring ice skating athletes?
I would say on the whole sports as generally, I would encourage everyone to pursue any sport in India and believe in themselves and don’t be afraid of anyone.
8) How was life in quarantine?
It has been quite interesting and I have been introspecting a lot but I have been cycling a lot so I was not confined to four walls and I have been training a lot and keep improving. Training and preparation in isolation have been quite helpful for me.
PHOTO CREDITS: @ravi.mistry and @stephantellier
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