Tejaswin Shankar at a competition. File image.

‘As Indians, we need to realise racism has different faces’: High jumper Tejaswin Shankar

The demise of George Floyd within the metropolis of Minneapolis, USA, led to a wave of ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests within the nation final month. The protests ignited a response from the sporting world as effectively with many massive names together with LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and so on lending assist to the anti-racism motion. ‘Black Lives Matter’ slogan was featured on jerseys of Premier League footballers, and star gamers resembling Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City) and Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) signalled assist by bending the knee throughout their respective video games.

India’s nationwide file holder in excessive soar Tejaswin Shankar, who’s pursuing accounting and finance on the Kansas State University, USA, on an athletics scholarship, witnessed first hand the protests which have rocked the nation.

While the demonstrations in Kansas metropolis weren’t as large-scale as in another elements of the USA, Shankar says that the protests have led to many assume and converse in regards to the difficulty of racism, and realise the significance of the difficulty. He additionally thinks that the athletes, and different outstanding members of the society who’ve a say, ought to converse in regards to the points they really feel strongly about.


Q) You have been in Kansas amid the Covid-19 disaster. How did you retain your self motivated and positive amid the disaster, away from household?

The one factor that has at all times saved me motivated right here is the truth that I used to be in a position to prepare. If I wasn’t in a position to prepare then none of these items would’ve mattered. The lockdown right here was not as strict as in India so I used to be in a position to stick with it with the coaching. Though I wasn’t in a position to excessive soar as a result of I didn’t have entry to the coaching area however I used to be in a position to carry, modify my coaching. I used to be in a position to get out of my home that was crucial half for me and day-after-day I used to be simply trying ahead to the coaching the subsequent day.

My semester obtained accomplished in May and after that, I’ve a while off and now summer season lessons have began up once more, so I feel that can also be one other factor we underestimate the research and schooling, even when we don’t take a look at it as one thing that helps it may be seen as a distraction. This approach teachers has additionally helped me distract myself from all of the issues which might be taking place round and simply get right into a routine.

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Generally, the issue we face is after we are out of the routine, issues develop into simple for you. Quarantine has utterly modified my routine however then the brand new routine I discovered is rather a lot simpler for me and I’m able to carry myself and be motivated.

Q) How has your coaching been going?

In phrases of preparation I imply there’s a variety of uncertainty about all the things in sports activities. Generally, when your coaching has a plan like a basic prep section the place you’re employed on physicality and enhance your endurance energy and then you definitely do particular prep the place you’re employed on the technical facet. You begin working round in circles, curve runs, and so forth for the excessive jumps. When you’re within the precise competitors section, you do soar apply and at this level, there isn’t a section as you don’t know when there will likely be a contest and that’s the way you base your coaching off.

So it’s laborious at sure factors for me to seek out the motivation to coach however on the similar time if in poor health cease coaching now then it’s going to develop into more durable to come back again in form that’s the reason I’m nonetheless coaching. It is known as a robust section. We are additionally unsure in regards to the Olympics despite the fact that it’s confirmed that it’ll occur in July 2021 however I’ve my eyes set on what’s arising subsequent and coaching to be ready.

Q) As you talked about, it’s a interval of uncertainty, however with the Olympics postponed, what are your plans on Tokyo qualification?

Yes, the postponement didn’t have an effect on me as a result of I used to be not certified within the video games and by the point I will likely be one yr older and possibly extra mature. I’ll have extra time to coach underneath my belt. I must be extra prepared ideally and I feel I will likely be much more prepared than I used to be this yr.

I used to be actually assured this yr if the Olympic had occurred I’d’ve actually jumped greater however then this coronavirus outbreak introduced all the things on halt. I don’t hope about something at this level however I do know one factor that I’ve to be versatile and hold coaching and put together myself and to not fear in regards to the end result and be assured sufficient.

Q) In the previous few weeks there was a variety of unrest within the USA, with Black Lives Matter protests and racism. Tell us a few of the issues that you’ve got seen taking place round you and the way is the present ambiance in Kansas?

After the George Floyd incident, that was the tip of the iceberg, there was a variety of unrest. The entire nation united after which everyone stood up in opposition to racism and all these practices which might be happening for thus lengthy. There had been another protests as effectively that had been going round in Manhattan, Kansas, and possibly not massive, I imply these protests didn’t flip violent. Denver and different locations had violent protests, buses had been set on hearth. It wasn’t that dangerous right here.

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The trigger is basically essential that’s the reason these protests actually mattered trigger we’re speaking about human rights right here. I really feel these items must be simply dialed into everyone as a result of it’s fundamental human rights however the truth that we’re having to speak about these items and in regards to the group that their lives issues is simply ridiculous due to course everyone’s life issues and if that is what we’ve got come right down to then I actually don’t know what progress we’re speaking about within the 21st century.

Q) As an Indian dwelling within the USA – do you assume racism exists? Have you personally skilled some situations of racial jibes, feedback, or bias?

Honestly, to be honest I’ve by no means confronted any of those feedback or jibes however on the similar time, it doesn’t imply we shouldn’t arise for another person who’s going through all these issues. For me, it has at all times been necessary to face up for others who’re going by such torture.

I feel such issues are actual or else individuals would’ve not been protesting or sleeping on the roads and never consuming. It is a professional motion and as an Indian, I feel we simply overlook the very fact and really feel it’s a black or white factor however on the similar time, we don’t realise that racism has totally different faces.

Q) Plenty of sports activities stars have additionally come out speaking about racism in sports activities. Do you are feeling there’s a want to speak about racism in sports activities circles?

I feel it is crucial, I don’t say an athlete ought to come out and discuss all the things that they don’t find out about. An athlete is requested about all the things in society, politics, science.

I feel an athlete ought to positively come up and speak on severe points and one which impacts them. Before being an athlete, they’re regular human beings, and particularly this can be a matter of civil rights. If somebody is discriminating in opposition to you based mostly on the truth that you’re black, they need to discuss it. Even Lebron James is speaking about it as a result of it’s affecting him personally so it doesn’t make any distinction whether or not he’s an athlete or not.

Well- recognized figures and athletes who’re able to making distinction ought to positively stand out aside from doing endorsements. I see Rani Rampal, Vinesh Phogat, they’re taking a stand on some points which they assume are incorrect. I feel extra athletes like them ought to come out and discuss these items and contribute positivity to society.

Q) How can we alter perceptions and mindset of individuals and educate individuals on this?

I feel the one factor we must be doing is cease disrespecting the opposite individual and begin believing that they deserve the identical respect. As we respect each particular person we are going to finally cease worrying about their ethnicity. I feel that might be the driving power that might change all the things for good.