Olympians in Anantapur!
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An Olympic day to remember for children at the Anantapur Sports Academy, who got to interact with former Olympians, listen to their inspiring stories and learn all about what it takes to reach the highest level!

For children at the Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) in India, Olympic day 2018 was a special one.  On a day that is all about the learning of Olympic values and the spirit of Olympism, ASA, in collaboration with the Olympians Association of India (aka Indian Olympians), organised an interactive session for children with two former Olympians.

‘Indian Olympians’ is an alumni association, which works towards the welfare of athletes who have represented India at the Olympics. It aims to ensure that all elite athletes can sustain themselves through sport and contribute towards building the Indian sporting fraternity to its highest potential.

The first of the two visiting Olympians at ASA was Cawas Billimoria, a name synonymous with Judo in India. The vastly experienced and successful Judoka represented India in the Men’s heavy weight event at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. The second was Hakimuddin Habibulla, an Olympic swimmer, who participated in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and has won a number of medals both nationally and internationally.

Over two sessions, they met with children of all ages in the academy with the aim of spreading the spirit of Olympism.

The Olympians told the young athletes their stories and talked about the various adversities they had to face in their careers. They discussed injuries, defeats and the will power, commitment and hard work it took to overcome them. They emphasised the importance of intrinsic motivation, not only in hard times but good times as well. It was essential for the children to understand that winning and losing is temporary and it is what you do after a victory or a loss that really counts.

“It was great for the children to learn these values from Olympians because they are people who don’t look for excuses and always look to work harder. They are role models in society because of their mentality, humility and commitment to training-- characteristics the majority of us don’t share” said Loïc Yves Joanno, the Academy Programmes Coordinator at ASA.

This is also the aim of the Olympic Association of India, who believe that Olympians personify the values of excellence, teamwork and discipline and can serve as role models to help bring communities together, across all ethnic, religious and social divides. It is imperative to instil in kids at a young age that the journey matters more than the destination.

When asked about the sessions, Hakimuddin Habibulla shared "I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the children and coaches at ASA. It was great to see everyone - athletes, coaches, and support staff - with a big smile and eager to learn. ASA has great ingredients - infrastructure, talent, and passion - to achieve their objectives."

This initiative by ASA and Indian Olympians was a valuable experience for the children at the residential academy in Anantapur and it is hoped that it can motivate and inspire them to believe in themselves and their ability to achieve their goals, whatever they may be!