12-year-old swimming sensation impresses at National Games

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Tapan Mohanta

Ranchi, Feb 18 (PTI) Frail looking and just four-and-halffeet tall, A V Jayaveena, at first failed to draw muchattention in the pool of the 34th National Games here.

She may be all of 12 but Tamil Nadu girl has outpacedmany top notch swimmers of the country, and her biggest momentcame in the 50m breaststroke when she pushed Richa Mishra tofifth en route to clinching a silver.

Jayaveena, incidentally, considers Richa her swimmingidol.

Fittingly, Richa went up to congratulate Jayaveena andeven directed the autograph-hunters to the Chennai girl.

"Take her autograph... She (Jayaveena) is the next star,"Richa said, something that obviously made the young talentproud of her feat.

"It''s a great moment for me. I''m really happy to beat myidol," Jayaveena, who also has picked two bronze medals in theGames, said.

At her maiden National Games, when Jayaveena took part inher first competition (50m freestyle), the 12-year-old wasnervous with the final list featuring Richa, Goan top swimmerTalasha Prabhu, and Maharashtra''s Rujuta Bhatt among others.

"It was not my favourite event. With all the top swimmersbesides me, I was a little nervous... I finished behind Richafor the bronze which gave me immense confidence," Jayaveenasaid.

The next day, in her pet event, 50m breaststroke,Jayaveena finished ahead of Richa for the silver asMaharashtra''s Poorva Shetye won the gold.

Daughter of noted Tamil Nadu actor Vijay Kumar who isnicknamed ''Thalaivasal'' for his superhit movies, Jayaveenacould have opted for films but instead she chose to be aswimmer, taking inspiration from her elder brother V Jaywant.

Having picked up swimming as a hobby at the age of three,it soon became a passion and she came under the tutelage of BGirish at the Turtle''s Swim Centre in Chennai.

"She was sent to a summer camp where she learnt swimming.

Gradually swimming became her passion as she also got intocompetition taking inspiration from my elder son," Vijay toldPTI.

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