Bangalore boy Vir Menon is a hugely talented sailor. Having already made rapid strides in his sport at a very young age, his ultimate dream is to win an Olympic medal for India. At 14, Vir has done the country proud. This year has been a memorable one for him as he became the first Indian to qualify for Gold Fleet of Laser 4.7 World Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Vir was also the youngest in the Gold Fleet.
Also in 2012, he was impressive at the Laser Inland Nationals 2012, on Hussain Sagar Lake, Hyderabad. At the Nationals, he won Laser 4.7 overall gold, Boys Under-16 sailing gold, Boys U-18 sailing gold, Laser 4.7 overall first rolling trophy and Laser 4.7 U-16 rolling trophy.
Vir finished 33rd in Gold Fleet and 7th in Under-16 category in Buenos Aires. Vir, who is a Class 9 student of Inventure Academy, was recently honoured by CNN-IBN news channel with Special Achievement Award at India Positive Awards.
"2016 Olympics is not a great possibility. I am aiming for 2020 Games. I want to win an Olympic medal for India," Vir told OneIndia in an interview when asked about his Olympic dream.
The way Vir has progressed since taking up sailing as a six-year-old, his dream is likely to be realised in eight years' time. "I started my sailing career at the age of six but at eight, I competed in my very first Regatta, which was held at Mumbai. I was sailing in the B Fleet along with a bunch of other kids who are at present my biggest competition. It was at the end of those Nationals that people recognised me as someone with enough talent to move forwards in the sport of sailing," explains Vir.
"My hard work had paid off in Goa (2008) where I received my first medal and trophy for 3rd place overall. I then started coaching under Marek, based in Hong Kong. It was then that I went for my first international Regatta in Malaysia. It was also my first time, I was sailing with a fleet of boats that exceeded 150 entries. Soon after, I was selected to be on the National Squad of India where I sailed and trained with a group of other people who had also shown talent at the selection trials," he added.
Hailing from a family of sailors, it was not a tough choice to make for Vir. From a hobby, Vir's love for sailing kept increasing and today he is one of the brightest young stars in India.
"Three generations of our family have been in sailing now. My grandfather was in Navy and he was a sailor. My father too was into sailing and he encouraged me to this sport," says Vir.
Having always got immense support from his family, it is the same when it comes to his school, Inventure Academy.
"I get loads of support from my school (Inventure Academy). I thank them for their continuous backing," Vir said.
Ask Vir which are the other sports he follows and he reveals that he is a big fan of Chelsea Football Club and Frank Lampard. Apart from football, he likes tennis, golf, squash and basketball.
His biggest inspiration is his father and role model in the sport is Great Britain's five-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie.
Vir feels sailing needs to get enough recognition which will help India target more medals in Olympics.
"Sailing has not got much recognition in India. If it is taken seriously and supported we can definitely get medals in Olympics," feels Vir.
In Aug 2012, Vir was at the largest annual international regatta in Austria, where out of 215 boys, he qualified into the silver fleet with a final position of 74. In the U-16 category, he was 22 out of 92 sailors.
Vir's next event begins in Chennai tomorrow where he will have to tackle both Indian and Irish sailors at the India International Regatta. His big goal in the next three months is winning the Nationals in December.
So far, it has been a smooth sailing for young Vir and the country is sure to hear a lot more achievements from this lad. His greatest moment of glory could arrive in 2020 Olympics. For now, he needs to keep moving on the same path.