World Athletics Day: Story Of India's Hockey Star And Arjuna Award Winner Nilakanta Sharma

Nilakanta Sharma is an Arjuna Award winner as well as a Hockey player for his country.

World Athletics Day: Story Of India's Hockey Star And Arjuna Award Winner Nilakanta Sharma

It takes blood, sweat and toil for an athlete to be on top of their game. Their dedication and hard work deserve to be celebrated - every year, World Athletics Day is celebrated in honour of these sportspersons and to inspire us to take a leaf out of their book of dedication and motivation. The lack of adequate support, funding, and sponsorships often impedes their progress and limits their opportunities to shine on the global stage. Even those who proudly represent our nation globally in the Olympics, have been disadvantaged than their foreign counterparts at some point in their sporting journey over access to such nutritional support.

Zee News English spoke to an athlete - Indian hockey team player Nilakanta Sharma, who rose through his struggle to emerge on top of his game. Here’s a look at his inspiring story.

Arjuna Award winner, Nilakanta Sharma never had it easy. The midfielder, at one time just ate what was made at home. But now sticks to the diet and routine given by his coaches, and relies on nutritional support by Steadfast Nutrition. Nilakanta was a part of the Indian hockey squad that won a historic bronze medal for India at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, ending a 41-year-old medal drought for India. He also helped his team clinch the Asian Games 2023 Hangzhou gold medal. The hockey ace had to surmount several obstacles to reach where he is today.

“I belong to Manipur and come from a humble family background. My city did not have any facilities for training. training. I had to ride a bicycle for 5 km every day to reach the only hockey ground in my town. I didn’t even have a proper hockey stick, shoes, or gear. My passion for the sport drove me to train from 5:00 am to 8:30 am every day, as that was the only time the turf was available. However, I had my parents’ support all along. In 2004, I started playing local matches in Manipur. Life took a U-turn when I decided to train at the Olympian Ashok Dhyanchand Hockey Academy in 2011. I developed a keen interest in the midfield position. By 2015, I  clinched a place in various state and national teams. In 2016 he got a chance to play for India in the World Cup, winning the gold at the Junior World Cup in Lucknow. A year after his win, Nilakanta was promoted to the senior rank."

Nilakanta is associated with the proudly Made in India brand Steadfast Nutrition and relies on it for nutritional support to improve his performance on the field, support his recovery after strenuous matches and practice sessions, and improve their endurance and muscle strength.

Steadfast Nutrition founder Aman Puri, himself a former athlete, told Zee News that the main reason he launched the brand was after discovering first-hand a gap in the demand and availability of good-quality sports nutritional supplements by the Indian sports fraternity.

“I competed in various international and national championships and discovered first hand that Indian athletes struggled with access to good quality supplements to meet the unique demands of their bodies. I launched Steadfast Nutrition to cater to these unique nutritional needs of Indian sportspersons and to bridge the gap between the demand and availability of top-quality nutraceuticals by the Indian sports fraternity. Steadfast Nutrition has carved a niche in the sports and wellness nutrition world since it burst into the scene in 2017. Our motto is ‘For Athletes, By Athletes’ and we aim at making India the world’s sports capital by 2050 by providing unwavering support to India’s sporting community.”

Steadfast Nutrition is committed to championing the cause of athletes from diverse sports backgrounds, ensuring they receive the recognition, support - including financial - and resources they need to achieve their dreams. The brand’s sports and wellness nutrition range caters to over 35 sporting categories, including cricket, football, hockey, powerlifting, bodybuilding, and boxing.