Age is, truly, just a number when it comes to the incredible stamina of Mr. Ghanshyam Ukey, who is almost 46-years-old. In his comparatively short but rapidly growing journey of fitness, he has participated in more than 200 marathons and triathlons, many of which he has won. A participant of SocialBoat’s ‘Work From Home’ challenge, he surprised and impressed everyone when he logged 8775 calories in just one day!
In a conversation with SocalBoat, he retraces his journey with fitness, reflects on the changes that he sees in the domain today, and offers some valuable advice to the young. Read on to read a remarkable story of passion and determination.
Sowing the Seeds of the Fitness Journey
As a child in school, Ghanshaym was very active in sports. However, since then, he had a special fascination for and interest in the triathlon. As he went on to pursue a diploma from the Government Technical College, he lost touch with all forms of physical activity altogether. For work, he moved from his native place in Gondia, Vidarbha to Nagpur. As Ghanshyam was determined to make his way into the world, he worked tirelessly with several companies and rose through the ranks. Again, what was missing here was any kind of physical activity.
Realization and Revival
Some years later, work required him to shift to Mumbai, where he was overlooking the Indian branches of a company based in Singapore. As he kept working, Ghanshyam realized that he wasn’t paying any attention to his body and this was showing up in the form of various problems. That’s when he thought it absolutely necessary to pay attention to his physical fitness.
What would be a better place to start than what he had left behind in his childhood? Ghanshyam started participating in sports such as running, kabaddi, and Kho-Kho. With time, his body started regaining its old strength and adapting to the change. He went on to participate in half marathons, and in some more time, it got converted to full marathons. On the side, Ghanshyam had also started perfecting his skills in cycling and swimming. He was preparing for the triathlon.
The First Triathlon
Mr. Ukey remembers that the first Olympic triathlon that he participated in was held in Aurangabad, after which there were many more in many different cities. He specifically recalls the one in Mount Abu, where the entire route was hilly, and therefore, quite challenging. However, the collective spirit of all the participants, especially those from his team pushed them to complete the route well within time.
Community Support and 5G Foundation
This support and motivation are what matter the most in all kinds of sports, Mr. Ukey says. Not just the support on the sports field, but also off of it. This is the thought behind the ‘5G Sports Foundation,’ an NGO for encouraging participation in sports in people from all age groups. Mr. Ukey is currently the President of the foundation.
The purpose of the foundation is to cultivate and reignite the passion for sports and physical activity in people of all ages and class groups. More importantly, it prepares them for the same through early morning classes, spreading awareness about different events being organized, and organizing small competitions within the community to encourage participation. They have trained several recruits for the Maharashtra Police. Moreover, they visit campuses of schools and colleges to conduct sessions on why one hour of workouts per day is mandatory.
The NGO has made such a name for itself through exceptional work that it receives support and encouragement from police departments across Mumbai.
Present Reflections on the Past for a Brighter Future
Reflecting on his journey of about 6-7 years with fitness, Mr. Ukey says,
“I never knew I had so much potential in me. I wasn’t even confident. It was my performance that gave me confidence.”
Adding to this, he also talks about how change has come in the approach to fitness. Unlike earlier, people’s mentality towards the importance of fitness has seen a positive change. They have started understanding its importance, Mr. Ukey says.
However, the gap still remains. Often the attention given to fitness is directly related to the financial stability of a person. Only when a person is financially stable do they start giving time and thought to health. Otherwise, they are just struggling to make ends meet. Mr. Ukey says that we must aim toward a world where health should be our top priority, no matter what. Through his NGO, he is trying to send this message across to people.
Advice to the Young
Fitter than most of the young people out there, and with stamina much better than theirs, Mr. Ukey has some advice to offer. He reiterates that, no matter what, one must be able to take out at least an hour every day for working on themselves. Even better is to engage in community sports where they can build a community. This helps with motivation in the longer run.
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