Viren Rasquinha was at IIM Ahmedabad as part of the 'How to Start a Startup (HTSAS) 2.0' series.
"It takes just 6 grams of gold to lift a nation," Viren Rasquinha, Arjuna Awardee, former captain of the Indian hockey team and a member of the 2004 Indian contingent to the Athens Olympics, started off his talk at IIM Ahmedabad as part of the How to Start a Startup (HTSAS) 2.0 series with these resounding words.
The HTSAS series was launched in 2016 with a vision to impart the experiences and learnings of seasoned entrepreneurs and investors to the entire country.
Mr. Rasquinha is currently the CEO of the Olympic Gold Quest - the brainchild of celebrated sportsmen Prakash Padukone and Geet Sethi, started with the mission to help Indian athletes win gold medals in the Olympics. With around 145 athletes currently being trained in 6 sports, the organization has nurtured 5 of the last 8 medal winners of India in the Olympics including the star of the 2016 Rio Olympics - badminton silver-medallist PV Sindhu.
Speaking of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Mr. Rasquinha recalled watching Leander Paes taking the podium with the tricolour rising in the background. He added that it was this moment which inspired him to captain the Indian team one day and win a medal in the Olympics.
Recounting tales of two encounters in his illustrious career against the formidable Australian team, one of them being the crunch group stage match in the 2004 Athens games, Rasquinha admitted to always finding the training which he and his fellow teammates received to be severely lacking in comparison to his Australian counterparts.
It was this constant feeling which led him to join the Olympic Gold Quest in 2009 after his MBA at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad.
Citing the examples of Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu, Mr. Rasquinha spoke about the different kinds of training which each of them received and the different timelines at which the Olympic Gold Quest worked with the three athletes. Working with Mary Kom from 2009 for the 2012 Olympics with a focused effort to help her jump up two weight categories and secure the bronze medal in the 2012 Games, Mr. Rasquinha finds Mary Kom, the most inspirational person he has met.
While the focus on Nehwal was also from 2009 with a three-year roadmap, the Olympic Gold Quest has been closely working with PV Sindhu with a 7-8 year timeline from the time she was around 14 years old.
The most important quality which he has found in all these athletes, he says is that "They will run through a brick wall every single day if required, the hard work and long hours put in, which the world is not aware of, is what makes these athletes successful."
Talking about how the sport has played a major role in shaping him into the person he is today, Mr. Rasquinha spoke about the three significant lessons he learnt through sports.
His one-year stint with the Stuttgart Kickers in the German Bundesliga taught him the importance of the right team environment for talent to flourish. He talked about the contrasting training styles in India and Australia and how it motivated him to give his best at all times, be it at practice or at team meetings or in the matches itself. Read: IIM Bangalore, IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Calcutta Among Top 50 In QS Masters In Management Rankings 2018
In a team environment, every single member of the team has a unique and essential role to play, he added. Joking that although goal scorers in sports like hockey and football get most the attention, he emphasized the value of every single member on any team.
Mr. Rasquinha ended the session with a short story about how a senior coach once told him that he would never make it big in hockey and how this conversation doubled his grit and determination to achieve his goals.
"Potential and possibilities in this time and age are immense," he concluded, adding that the choice rests with us and we always have the option of putting in our best foot forward and working towards achieving our goals.
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