Cricketer Sandeep Warrier 'extremely happy' to bask in roller-skater wife Aarathy's Asian Games glory
Warrier, a nippy fast-medium bowler, who plays for Tamil Nadu in domestic cricket, has played IPL and also luckily got to play a T20I.
Sandeep Warrier has seen better half Aarathy Kasturi Raj's struggles over the years and as her biggest strength and pillar of support, couldn't be more proud seeing the acclaimed roller skating ace win her first Asian Games medal, a team bronze in 3000m relay in Hangzhou.
Warrier, a nippy fast medium bowler, who plays for Tamil Nadu in domestic cricket, has played IPL and also luckily got to play a T20 International during the COVID-19 hit tour of Sri Lanka in 2021, where he had gone as a net bowler.
"I'm extremely proud of her. I'm really happy that she finally made it. I've seen her struggle in the last six-seven years but she has not given up and kept at it," Warrier told PTI from Chennai.
The 29-year-old Aarathy, who took up roller-skating at a five, won her first Asian Games medal in second appearance. This was India's first-ever medal in the speed- skating discipline.
Roller sports made its debut in the Asian Games in 2010 when Anup Kumar Yama bagged bronze in men's single free skating event before combining with Avani Panchal to finish third in the pairs skating event.
Also a doctor by profession, Aarathy, who is now pursuing PG in clinical embryology, could have given up roller-skating after a disappointing seventh place finish at Asian Games 2018.
The uncertainty over the Asian Games that was delayed by a year because of the pandemic also had upset plans of many. And, Aarathy also endured a difficult time sustaining multiple cuts and bruises on her head in the sport which is very prone to injuries.
But she kept at it in pursuit of an Asian Games medal.
"I know the effort she has put in the last couple of years. I've seen it in in front of my own eyes, how she was dedicated and kept the whole focus was on this medal. I don't remember when she last took a break in two-three years'," Sandeep added.
"I've not seen her complain about anything. After the Games is delayed, most lose focus and intensity. But I've not seen that happen with her. There has been no drop in intensity and she would train for more than seven hours everyday
"She was behind this Asian Games all this while. I was thinking she would win in the individual as well for the effort she has put in the last two years," he said.
On Saturday, Aarathy finished fifth in the women's speed skating 10000m point-elimination race which was an improvement of two places on her last Asian Games effort in 2018.
Daughter of a Chennai-based businessman father C Kasturi Raj and gynaecologist mother Mala Raj, Aarathy took to skating at the age of seven as her parents were keen that she takes up some form of sport.
"It just happened for her. Her parents were adamant that she should join some sport and she tried out swimming, badminton and tennis but skating was something that clicked for her. I guess the speed of skating just thrills her," said the pacer.
But the medium-pacer said if the "love for speed" was not the common connect and it clicked for them instantly after they first met during a function in 2016.
Their story is that of a "skater-got-bowled' -- the name of their Instagram page -- after they "clicked" instantly when Warrier, a Ranji Trophy cricketer then, went for an event in a college in Chennai.
"I met her in 2016 when I was there for an event in her college. She was the sports head of that college. That's how I met her," Warrier who got married to Aarathy in 2019, fondly recollects.
"It just happened for us. I was just lucky enough to meet her that day. The time we spent together then just clicked for us," Warrier, who made his IPL debut in 2019 season for KKR, added.
"She's very hardworking. It was quite hectic for her but she had the passion. She will train in morning, go to her college and then again go for training. Skating has been pure passion for her. She loves to skate which has kept her going I would say," he said.
"I know what she has gone through in the last few years. More than struggle, I would say the dedication she has put in past one and half years made it for her."
"We don't talk about each other's sports. Basically we talk a lot about training and our diets, but not about each other's sport."
Even for couples who pursue professional sports, it becomes important to give each other space as and when needed.
"We give each other space. She likes to be in her own space with her skating and I also like to be in my own space in cricket. She started following cricket recently, but not very much into cricket. But I follow her races a lot and accompany her to all National events," he added.
The Kerala cricketer, who is now employed with India Cements, has also moved his base to Chennai and joined Tamil Nadu four seasons ago.