Fourteen-year-old Jaydeep Rane who bagged two gold medals in individual swimming events and two more golds in relay events in the First South Asian Swimming and Water Polo Championship held in Islamabad, Pakistan, in September (2007), is quite clearly a water baby with a great future. His best timings of 26.82 seconds in the 50 metres freestyle and 58.78 seconds in the 100 metres freestyle are within hailing distance of the Olympic records (21.91 seconds and 47.84 seconds respectively) in these events. Swimmers from five Asian countries Ã¢â‚¬â€ India, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal Ã¢â‚¬â€ participated in the recently concluded championship.
On the strength of this gold-winning performance, Jaydeep has been selected to represent India at the Youth Commonwealth Games to be held in Pune in October this year. A class IX student of Arya Vidya Mandir, Mumbai, he won his first medal (silver) in the 2006 nationals held in Thiruvananthapuram in a relay event. Since then thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been no looking back for this energetic aquanaut. He struck gold (100 m freestyle); silver (50 m freestyle) and a bronze in the 4x100 m relay in the National School Games held in Goa in January 2007. In July the same year he won three gold medals in the 50 m, 100 m, and 4x100 m relay (freestyle) events in the National Swimming Champion-ships held in Bhopal.
Jaydeep took his first swimming lesson when he was four years old. "It used to be cold and dark when I started to learn in the MIG Club in Bandra, but my mother was always there to encourage me. Now I train for 90 minutes every day. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard work but I am happy that it has paid off. Apart from the thrill of representing my country, being a sportsperson has kept me fit, helped me concentrate better in school and made me independent," he says.
Among the top three academic performers in his class, Jaydeep will be writing his class X board exams next year. Given the stress and pressure involved, he has requested the Swimming Federation of India to exempt him from training camps for a year, to enable him to give of his best. "While teachers at Arya Mandir are very understanding and help him catch up with his studies, we are worried that he might not be able to balance academics and training camps in class X. Moreover given that there are hardly any corporate sponsors for swimming, it makes sense for him to concentrate on the board exams and keep his options open. There is no real future even for ace swimmers in India," says JaydeepÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mother Supriya.
Lack of corporate support notwithstanding, Jaydeep is training hard to qualify for the Commonwealth Games to be held in 2010 in New Delhi. And not one to be left behind on the academic front, he hopes to enter an IIT, failing which he will pursue a degree in automobile engineering abroad.
Whether in India or abroad, this focussed youngster looks likely to strike gold.
Vidya Sundaresan (Mumbai)
At an age when most of his peers are content with reading books, 13-year-old Jvalin Tejpal has penned two of his own. A class VIII student of Delhi Public School, RK Puram, Delhi (voted IndiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s No.1 school by a EW-IMRB survey in August last year), Jvalin is the author of Amazing Facts for Young Minds and The Race to Space: An Introduction of Space to Children. Amazing Facts is more of a booklet (34 pages), self-published in December 2004 and distributed among friends and relations. In 2007 however, after he had completed the 64-page The Race to Space, TejpalÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s bureaucrat father suggested they look for a publisher. Within days it was accepted by the Delhi-based Dreamland Publications.
Comments Jvalin, who relied heavily on the school library, the internet and discussions with teachers to write The Race to Space: "My happiness at becoming a published author canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be expressed in words and my family and friends are equally thrilled."
The young author took 18 months to complete the book and admits that none in the family was happy with his long hours of work. How-ever their fears were unwarranted because he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t let his school grades slip, averaging 89 percent in the class VII exam. "My mother is a teacher and a strict disciplinarian, yet she encouraged me to write. Without my parentsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ support, this book would have been impossible," he declares.
Written by a young student and pitched at his peers, Race to Space offers JvalinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s take on the solar system, space odysseys, India in space and space records. "IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve also written a brief history of the science of astronomy, and information is woven around anecdotes about ancient myths related to life in other worlds," says Jvalin.
Given his interest in the space sciences, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s no surprise that Jvalin has set his sights on a career in astronomy. "Space and its immense mysteries crowd my mind," says this young science and technology aficionado who has started writing a new book explaining HTML (hyper text marker protocol) for children. And though he lists R.L. Stine as his favourite author, his forte is science rather than fiction writing.
Vidya Pandit (Lucknow)