Virdhawal Khade, is India’s most accomplished and fastest ever swimmer. Veer started swimming at the age of 4 in his home town – Kolhapur, and in no time, was winning medals at local meets. City and state meets followed, and by 14, Veer was not only winning Gold at the Sr. Nationals, beating India’s most elite senior swimmers, but he also set a National Record for 200 m freestyle.
At 15, Veer entered a different league of swimmers, emerging clearly as one of country’s brightest sporting talents, when he became the youngest Indian, ever, to qualify to swim the Olympics for the country. He was also the youngest athlete in the Indian contingent at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. He created history yet again, by becoming the first Indian swimmer to win a medal at the Asian Games after 24 years – a first for India, in his lifetime. He was the youngest Indian swimmer to win a medal at the Asian Games, and the youngest among all male sprinters at these Asian Games, to win a medal.
In 2011, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to sport in India, Virdhawal received the Arjuna Award from the President of India.
At 17, Veer was the most decorated athlete at the Commonwealth Games in Pune, winning 3 Gold and 3 Silver medals, while setting 4 new National Records. At this point Veer was the fastest swimmer in the world in the under-18 category for 100 m freestyle and the first Indian swimmer to break into the top 50 FINA world rankings. It is not surprising that these Games remain one of the star’s personal favourite memories.
Veer, is also the first and youngest Indian swimmer to make the finals (top 8) at the Commonwealth Games finishing a very creditable 7th in the 50m Butterfly. He has a long list of wins at national and international meets including those at the prestigious Asian Indoor Games 2009 and the Asian Swimming Championships 2009. He currently holds 5 National records – 50m, 100m, 200m Freestyle and 50m, 100m Butterfly.
In 2008, Pratham Books, a not-for-profit trust that seeks to publish high-quality books for children at an affordable price in multiple Indian languages, published a book based on Virdhawals inspirational journey to the Olympic Games called “Kolhapur to Beijing – Freestyle.
Deeply patriotic, Veer rejected several offers from US universities to swim for them in the last few years. Now 26, Veer is training to compete for India at the forthcoming Asian Games in 2018 and the Olympics in 2020.
An exemplary youth icon – Virdhawal Khade’s very inspiring story also is a part of the class 10 syllabus in Maharashtra state schools.