I want to make India proud with my achievements: Varun Pradip Dave
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Having recently accomplished four new world records at the Powerlifting World Cup in Russia, Indian powerlifter Varun Pradip Dave has the world at his feet. He is also the youngest world record holder at the AWPC Men's Junior Single Ply category, the first Indian powerlifter to get an international excellence award and to receive an honorary doctorate in Field Powerlifting and Strength Athletics.
In this exclusive interview, Varun Pradip Dave speaks about his journey, accomplishing world records, delivering a TEDx speech, special achievements in his career, importance of mental health, overcoming challenges and future goals.
Q 1) When did you first start powerlifting and what made you pursue it professionally?
I have always been a sports enthusiast and my dream was to play for Team India in any sport. I started going to the gym during my vacation and that’s where my journey began. I won four gold medals at the state level and three at the national level which led me to represent India at the age of 15. I was the youngest athlete of the team and had the opportunity to represent India at the World Cup. That’s when I decided to pursue a career in powerlifting and give my 100% to make India proud with my achievements.
Q 2) You recently made four new world records at the Powerlifting World Cup in Russia. Tell us about those achievements and how much it means to you.
I recently achieved four new world records at the World Cup and before the tournament, I was extremely confident of my ability to make a mark at the event. However, just a week before the tournament, I met with an accident and had to undergo 30 stitches on my leg. The doctor advised me to not go to Russia but I didn’t listen and hid my injury from the judges at the tournament. Despite my injury, I managed to get four world records which still feels like a dream to me. I have worked very hard in the last five years to make this a reality and the journey has been difficult because I don’t come from a sports background. Looking back, despite all the difficulties, the view at the top makes it all worth it.
Q 3) You were also the first Indian powerlifter to deliver a TEDx speech. How was that experience?
Delivering a TEDx speech was one of the best experiences in my life so far as I received the opportunity at a low time in my career but it taught me a valuable lesson to not underestimate myself. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be the face of Indian powerlifting on a global platform.
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Q 4) What is the most special achievement of your career and why?
The most special achievement of my life was winning the title of the strongest man of Gujarat at the age of 17. The achievement was unprecedented as nobody from Gujarat had been given this title in the open category at such a young age and what makes it even more memorable is that it came at a time when I had lost back-to-back tournaments after which I received a lot of criticism. It’s very special for me because nobody believed that I could accomplish what I did.
Q 5) How important is mental health in becoming a champion powerlifter?
I believe that mental health is important, not just in powerlifting but in any sport or field because without a stable mind it’s very difficult to perform to the best of your abilities. Training your mind is very important to achieve your goals and I’ve realised the importance of mental health after going through difficult times. I always make myself available for those who are suffering from mental health issues as I can empathise with the difficulties they are facing.
Q 6) What are some of the challenges you have faced in your journey as a powerlifter? How did you overcome them?
As a vegetarian, it’s always difficult to get the required protein intake from my diet. Earlier, due to my small stature, I was not allowed to consume protein shakes which made it even more difficult to get the required nutrition for being a powerlifter. I’m also an engineering student so balancing my studies and powerlifting has been very difficult, but over time, I’ve learnt to balance the two without compromising on either.
Q 7) What are your future goals? How do you plan to achieve them?
I consider myself a dreamer and I have multiple passions in my life. I want to pursue acting, singing and powerlifting. I pursue anything that my heart tells me to and believe that anything can be achieved if you have that spark or fire inside you. I am also writing a book and have worked on 2 to 3 regional web series as an actor in Gujarat. My motto is “You are stronger than you think” so my plan is to continue working hard to achieve my dreams.