Hyderabad: There’s one common thing to shooter Esha Singh and mountaineer Samanyu Pothuraju, who will receive the Bal Shakti Puraskar (National Child Award) from President Ramnath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday — they both come from the same school, of thought andeducation, Bolton in Secunderabad.
While Esha is a ninth standard student, Samanyu is in fourth class. Both are strong in the mind and determined to achieve laurels, for the state and country.
“My school has been so supportive and lenient when it comes to granting leaves,” Esha says, adding “I make up for missed classes by taking tuitions and write exams at my convenience.”
Next on her support list are parents. “I am very grateful to them for being there for me all the time. My father (Sachin Singh) gave up his rallying career to concentrate on mine. He has dedicated a lot of his time to shaping my career,” the 15-year-old says, adding, “My coach (Sunder Ghate) too has helped me a lot. He used to travel all the way from Pune to Hyderabad to train me. Sometimes the sessions would go on from 5 am to 9 or 10 pm.”
Esha first pulled the trigger when she was nine years old. “I accompanied my father one Sunday morning to the Shooting Ranges in Gachibowli, where his friends had invited him. He used to practice skeet shooting as a hobby. There I got drawn to the sport and later took it up seriously at Olympic medallist Gagan Narang’s Gun For Glory academy in Pune. He (Gagan) is still my inspiration. I used to see his posters with the Olympic medal all over the academy. Looking at those I would think ‘even I want one,’” she recalls.
It’s the year of the Olympics again but Esha is looking at the World Cup in March for now.
Little Samanyu wants “to become a big mountaineer.”
He wants to “scale all seven summits” and then go even higher “to be an Air Force pilot.”
The kid has already scaled Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (the highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres from sea level) and Mt Kosciuszko (the highest in the Australian continent, at 2,228 metres above sea level) in the last two years. Now, he has set sights on the other five: Mt Elbrus in Russia, Mt Aconcagua in Argentina, Mt Denali in the USA, Mt Vinson in Antartica and finally the big one — Mt Everest.
At 7, Samanyu trekked for more than 8 days to make it to the base camp of Mt Everest that stood 5,385 metres above the sea level. An year later he had gone 5,200 metres up Europe’s highest peak of Mt. Elbrus (5,642 metres) before heavy winds made it impossible for his tender body to withstand the harsh conditions. The nine-year-old is determined to complete the unfinished job this June though.
“However, he has to wait for seven more years to turn 16, the minimum age required, to attempt the Everest climb,” his mother Lavanya informs.
“Apart from mountaineering, Samanyu also has keen interest in athletics, especially in 100 metres sprint,” she adds.
How did the boy get drawn to the might of the mountains? “He was in 2nd class when his school (then Jain School) was taking interested students from classes 6 to 10 to Everest Base camp expedition. They were chosen based on their physical and mental fitness. Samanyu’s sister Hasitha was also part of that expedition team which included 26 students who underwent rigorous physical training. Accompanying his sister everyday to the preparatory sessions, an enthusiastic Samanyu also joined the training. Noticing his interest, the expedition team agreed to take him along with the other school children,” Lavanya explains.
He has never looked down since....