National Games are like mini-Olympics, says 1999 Best Athlete Nisha Millet
National Games are like mini-Olympics and are the most important sports event in the country, says 1999 Best Female Athlete Nisha Millet as excitement mounts ahead of the 36th National Games, set to get under way in Gujarat from September 29.
“National Games is the best event in the country. It is the only meet where the nation’s best athletes from so many sports assemble, giving one the feeling of mini-Olympics,” the Olympian said. “There is nothing like rubbing shoulders with the best to make yourself become better.”
“I competed in three National Games, Pune (1994), Bangalore (1997) and Imphal (1999) and those beautiful memories are still fresh in my mind. I did not do well in Pune (one bronze) but I was on a roll in Bangalore and Imphal where I won 8 Gold and 14 Gold respectively,” she recalled.
“It was a long journey from Bangalore to Imphal and I remember the pool was really cold,” she said of the time when she won 14 Gold and became the talk of the town. “That was an important meet since it got me going towards the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. I also remember flying back first-class after having to stay for the closing ceremony to get my award.”
Nisha Millet is glad that almost every major star in swimming will be competing in Rajkot, making it one of the most competitive fields.
“It’s really going to be exciting. I foresee so many big battles,” she said, adding that the established stars cannot take things for granted. “I think we will see some new champions. Some juniors will surprise the seniors.”
She hopes that the National Games will now be held regularly.
“The Games boost the morale of young athletes, help them get used to the winning habit too. They also create state-of-the-art sports infrastructure which is so critical. They ensure the best facilities to not only the young but the elite athletes too,” said the Arjuna Award winner.
Nisha Millet recently opened a swimming academy in Bangalore which caters to tiny tots (one-year olds and above) and is focussed on coaching girls. She has also associated herself with the DY Patil Swimming Initiative in Navi Mumbai, underlining her philosophy of giving it back to the sport.