Dealing with (the lack of)Sponsors
Few days back, I had a conversation with a guy which went like this :
"Him : I run a 1:30 Half Marathon, can I get a sponsor?
Me : Buddy, I run a 1:20 and have been in this sport for 15 years(swimming era included) and still I have had to fund many races from my own pocket
Him : So if I run a 1:20 will I get sponsors?
Me : *facepalm*
If you work really hard, have a massive social media presence and are the sponsors' son or blood relative, you surely will
Him : What returns do you get from investing this much money?
Me : I managed to create awareness in the people about the event and let the world know that Indians are capable of everything
Him : So, no money?"
It's times like these when you thank the other person is behind a computer/mobile screen far far away or else I could've been charged with culpable homecide .
And this is not the only conversation, some people including my extended family have asked me :
What do you get out of it?
Cricketers get paid, why not you?
So let's start.
Ladies and Gentlemen, reasons why I do what I do.
First of all, what do I get out of it, why I do it etc.
Easy. In a country of over a billion people, we produce athletes who aren't exactly competitive at world level.(This includes you Cricketers, you guys suck at Test Cricket in the international arena)
Why is it so?
Lack of Money? Yes
Lack of Infrastructure? Yes
Corruption? Hell, Yes
But there are bodies which support Olympic Athletes : Mittal Champions Trust, Olympic Gold Quest
And they ensure that money goes in the right hands, and training and nutrition are handled properly.
And yes, results have started coming up. Boxing, Wresting, Badminton, Gymnastics, Shooting and even Long distance Running.
But Olympics aren't limited to these sports. And our total gold medal haul is still less than what Usain Bolt bags in 1 Olympics.
Another deep rooted reason is the lack of motivation.
"It's too hot.
It's too cold.
My knees hurt."
We have role models, but they become celebrities and then people look at them like a dream.
Why I do this sport is simple.
I am 5'6" tall, weigh 60 kgs(currently). I had a knee injury and couldn't train for 3 months prior to a race which is long enough that people get bored by the time I end up describing it.
I'm neither physically big or gifted or talented. I just have one thing which I inherited from watching my parents go about their life : Willpower.
They get things done. No matter how tired they are. Now matter how broke they are.
If something has to be done, it is done.
I always have said, if I can do something, anyone can.
Big or small, fat or thin, conditions don't matter. Will power does.
And if I could finish this event, and my story reaches people and it inspires someone to just get up, take a look at their life and turn it around : Be it a health related change or a career related one - I will be a very happy man.
If I can be a role model to someone to just not give up, no matter how crappy the conditions are. No matter how much they want to give up and lie down, my life's purpose is solved.
I have 1 goal in life : To leave this world a better place than what I came in.
And that's what I will do.
What I get out of it?
Happiness. I love pain. To quote David Goggins "I have earned my pain and now I will enjoy it"
Also I love it when people tell me they started running because they heard my story.
The best feeling was when a unknown guy, inboxed me and told me : "I have wasted a lot of time during Engineering. Left playing Football. But looking at your story, i believe it's not too late. I will pursue my dreams too"
If I was shot dead at that very moment, i would have died a very peaceful death.
And my girlfriend finds it pretty cool that I do all this. So yes, it helps me impress MY girl. ;)
Coming to Sponsors
Apart from spending all the money that I earnt working as a QA with S&P Capital IQ, I have met some angels along the way too.
Zarir Balliwala for e.g. is a man with a golden heart and I don't really know how to thank him for what he's done for me.
Rajeev Jain, his friend is another one of my guardian angels.
George Kuruvilla, Ashish Sachdeva, Vaishali Kasture, Mayank Pratap Singh, Manish Satyanaryana, Shrikanth Desikachar and all those who contributed during my crowdfunding campaign were there for me.
But the glass is never full. No matter how hard we try, money is never enough.
After spending more than what would have gotten me another Volkswagen Vento, I still don't have the proper competitive equipment : Wetsuit, Tri Bike, Power Meter.
And all these folks, have given me a lot. I tried to stretch in corporate sponsors, bike companies and what not.
Companies like Giant, don't even have the courtesy to reply to emails when asked for sponsorship.
Even if I am getting rejected, give some respect man. I'm not standing on your door, begging.
I represent your country and try and bring some pride to it.
And rest of the corporates are blind. Blissfully unaware of triathlons.
I guess the sport isn't flashy enough for them. The reach is too small and the ad-impact is too low.
Nonetheless, I carry on. I have my guardian angels with me. And I have my will power. And a positive attitude too.
Someday, something will good will come out it.
And okay, maybe I won't be able to compete at that level.
So what? I will still have inspired generations to keep fighting and keep moving forward.
Someday, we will have an Indian Ironman World Champion. :)