I bunked classes for three months when I was in ninth standard. I would go to school without attending classes.
I would sleep soundly at a secluded place before returning to hostel. When my unsuspecting father came to know my `interest' in studies, he gave me an unforgettable thrashing on the school premises itself.
M. Naveen Raja Jacob in full flight is one of the pleasures of watching volleyball in Chennai. The 25-yearold Indian Overseas Bank officer is the best talent to have come out of Tamil Nadu in the new millennium. Naveen is a complete package. Gifted with explosive power and hand speed, the attacker packs a punch in his smashes. Naveen is a great server and a dependable receiver. Lack of inches prevents him from being a top blocker but he can be more than useful in blunting the opposition's spikes thanks to his prodigious jump. No wonder the player from Tirunelveli has been a fixture in the Indian team ever since he made his senior debut.
Naveen, who is getting ready to help Tamil Nadu reclaim the national title, answered Deccan Chronicle's off-beat questions.
Earliest sporting memory: Playing cricket.
What would you have done without volleyball? Maybe I would have followed in my father's footsteps and set up a photo studio. I was average at studies. Toughest part of his career: I find coping with injury extreme ly difficult. Injurie are a test of one's mental strength. Most memorable sporting moment: The 2009 junior world championship in Pune where India finished fourth and I bagged the best server, scorer an server, scorer and receiver awards.
And, the worst: Not being able to perform to the best of my ability i the best of my ability in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers owing to a shoulder injury.
Questions most asked by the public: What is the secret of your jump and power?
What is your ultimate goal in volleyball? Winning a medal at next year's Asian Games.
My one piece of advice to youngsters: Come to the ground at least half-an-hour earlier than others to work on the areas where you have scope for improvement.
Pet name: Thambi to my family members.
My biggest extravaganza: Shopping. I splurge on dresses.
What do you never leave home without? The Bible.
The craziest thing you have ever done: I bunked classes for three months when I was in ninth standard. I would go to school without attending classes. I would sleep soundly at a secluded place before returning to hostel. When my unsuspecting father came to know my `interest' in studies, he gave me an unforgettable thrashing on the school premises itself.
Your best trait: I'm an affectionate person.
And, the worst: Anger.
Favourite hero: Ajith.
Favourite heroine: Trisha. What do you remember most about playing your first international match? I was fear ful when I made my debut for the Indian ebut for the Indian youth team against Belgium in 2007.
The person I learned most from in volley ball: Indian Bank's Muthuraj. I played for Indian I played for Indian Bank before joining IOB and I always looked up to Muthuraj. He is still a ole model. role model.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? SAI coach Sendhurpandian. I learned so much from him during my formative years at Tirunelveli. He was a tough task master.
But I wouldn't have come this far without his guidance. My parents have also supported me all along my career.