New Delhi, Aug 4: Virdhawal Khade, the new teen sensation is the youngest hopeful to keep the Indian flag aloft in the Beijing Olympics. He has already won six gold medals in 2006 south Asian Games. Just as Khade gears up to leave for the Olympics, Pratham books, launches a book in eight languages including English, 'Kolhapur to Beijing - Freestyle!' narrating the story of the journey of the 16-year-old fastest Indian swimmer.
The book is targeted at kids and aspires to inspire them to fulfil their aspirations in the same manner as this lad, who made it big from a small town Kohlapur to Beijing. Mala Kumar has authored the book and Ashish Nangia has illustrated it. Virdhawal is the youngest ever-Indian swimmer to qualify for the Olympics just in his 11th grade, but to achieve this stature at such a young age he had to make many sacrifices.
"I had to sacrifice many things. I am staying in Bangalore from past three years and I haven't gone to school. I only go to school to give my exams. I have stayed away from my home even. But I knew in order to win an entry in Olympics, I have to make these sacrifices and I am happy with my decision," he said.
Suresh Kalmadi, President of the Indian Olympic Association, who was also present on the ocassion, hoped that he would inspire more people to join Olympics sport.
"He is our future hope. He's just 16 years old and he has qualified in 3-4 events in the Olympics, which is great. This is a land of cricket, so we now hope that parents send their children for the Olympic sports," said Suresh. Pratham Books ran a campaign asking everyone from different parts of the country to send in their best wishes to the swimmer.
Over 32,000 children and adults responded in eight languages and the 50-metre card with everyone's best wishes was presented to Virdhawal.
Virdhawal finished first within an impressive time of one minute and 52.41 seconds at the World Swimming Championship in Melbourne last year, which paved the path for his entry to the Beijing Olympics.
The young swimmer will be representing India in the 50m, 100m and 200m freestyle races at the 2008 Beijing Olympics along with three other swimmers, Rehan Puncha, Sandeep Sejwal and Ankur Poseria.