Confident Devika Srikanth on the right path

Devika Srikanth chose aquathlon by accident but has ended up falling in love with it. DH PHOTO/ BH SHIVAKUMAR

Devika Srikanth knows she took the path less travelled. She knows the sacrifices her choice demands. And at 17, when her peers are out being normal teenagers and doing teenager things, the aquathlon athlete, a self-admitted Agatha Christie fan, is busy building a portfolio of success.

“I don’t think I’m missing out on anything because this is what I chose to do. This is what I love. There is always time to do all the other stuff later,” she tells DH.

Granted success helps. It begets more success. But every decision she makes is to make that path easier.

Like switching to National Institute of Open Schooling after 10th standard to focus on her passion for aquathlon -- a gruelling sport that includes swimming and running.

It all started, at an event, she just happened to enter back in 2012. “I just did it because my coaches told me to give it a try. Then I realised that I found doing the combination of swimming and running much more fun than doing either of them individually,” she said.

The event, in which she made her breakthrough, was the State Aquathlon Championship. A gold medal there moved her into the national circles. Since then she has dominated the state circuit with five gold medals and has three gold and one silver at the national level. She also has two international medals to her name.

The training has also ensured over a dozen medals in 10K runs and a large haul in swimming. “She is constantly improving,” says her coach and Dronacharya awardee V R Beedu. “After every event, I get some sweets,” he adds with a laugh.

The famed coach even feels she has what it takes to run half-marathons.

Meanwhile, Partha Varanasi -- her swimming coach along with Niroop G R at the Nettakallappa Aquatic Centre -- is thrilled at her improvement.

“Her technique was a bit poor a couple of years ago and we’ve been working on it. She’s improved a lot, body control, drag, stroke count all has reduced. As for open water training, she attended a camp last year in a pond. We have a plan to take her for a bit of beach and pond swimming,” he remarked.

Devika, whose parents Srikanth Dayanand and Nirupama Srikanth have given ‘immense support’, is also keen to try her hand in triathlon in the future.

“I’m aware that aquathlon is not an Olympic sport but it is recognised by the International Triathlon Union in the World Championships. I want to try triathlon soon, want to start cycling,” she signed off.

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