As 16-year-old Judoka Sachin Mann prepares for the International Judo Tournament to be held in Venray, Netherlands from June 12, he is trying to sort out a complex issue — how to carry a whole suitcase full of processed food or instant mix packets on board the flight.
Being a vegetarian, he says it is difficult to find vegetarian food in European countries and East Asian nations. This predicament is giving him a headache, more severe than the thought of facing brawny opponents.
“Mostly, they serve a lot of meat and I just can’t have it. I come from a vegetarian family and even they don’t allow me to eat it. So apart from finding milk and fruits, it is certainly a difficult task to get food. While you are competing, it is very important to keep energy level high,” says the 6’4” Sachin, who competes in the senior category.
This will be Sachin’s first tour where he is on his own and more importantly, will have to manage his food by himself. His father, Rambir Mann, an international wrestler who let go of the mat in 1994, had travelled with Sachin and taken care of his food and other nutritional requirements until this point.
“It is not only my passion to see my son beating international judokas and winning medals but i consider it to be my duty to help him. This time, I won’t be going as we have been informed that the judokas will be given a home-stay and will have their own facilities to heat food. I am sending a lot of packed food with Sachin so he can heat it and have his meals,” says Rambir.
Rambir is an advocate in Delhi and relies on an extended support system when he travels with his children. “I have a lot of advocates, who are good friends and very helpful. I hand over whatever cases and fees I have during the times to them. They take care of the legal proceedings till the time I am back,” he Rambir.
Divya, Sachin’s sister, has also taken to judo. A 13-year old standing six-feet tall, she has done equally well. While Sachin has five national golds, to go with a gold and a bronze in international meets, Divya won consecutive gold medals in the Rajiv Gandhi Gold Cup in 2012 and 2013. Sachin was recently adjudged the best judoka at a meet in Indonesia and finished fifth in last year’s Indoor Asian and Martial Arts Games in Incheon.
Divya too will not be accompanying her brother to Venray. “I have to concentrate more on the studies as of now,” she says.
The siblings also maintain good grades. It helps that their mother is an english teacher. They also do not stop their judo practice during their exams.
“Our coach Ravinder Dahiya has already chalked out a schedule for us. Three days we practice judo while the next three we go to the gym. This schedule works well and we have time to study,” Divya says.
TASK AT HAND
Divya and Sachin know they what they have to do. While Divya is occupied with her studies, Sachin has ten days to prepare for Venray — his third competition there in as many years.
“What I have learnt in these international competitions is how to compete against the Russians and the Japanese. Judokas from these two countries pose a threat and I am working very hard to prepare myself. Secondly, having a calm mind helps during the bout as you don’t panic against a better ranked judoka,” says Sachin.
“You know what I want this time around as well? I want those people in the crowd to once again give me a standing ovation,” Sachin says. “Being a junior, I fight in the senior category. So last year, my first bout was with England’s youth Commonwealth Champion Jack Hogson.
My coach never told me about that and asked me to just go and give my best. I thought the opponent must be a weak judoka. I beat him in the first round and the people stood from their chairs and gave me a standing ovation. That moment will remain as the cherished one regardless of what I achieve in this sport,” he signs off.