Weightlifter Jaswant Shergill's key to success: I've always embraced the hardship
Jaswant Shergill knows more than most how sport can inspire young people.
I've always embraced the hardship.
A childhood love of training and competition took the Birmingham weightlifter to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014. Now he combines training and work as a secondary school teacher, and he hopes that he can be an inspiration to not only his pupils, but to other young people across the region who may be thinking of taking up sport:
“I’m really enjoying teaching and training. Every time I have a competition, I bring my medal in for the kids and show them videos from the competition.
“My number one piece of advice is to just pursue your interests. I feel like people who have become successful in life are the type of people that didn’t ignore the voice in their head that wanted to try new things.”
Shergill couldn’t be prouder to be from the West Midlands, having grown up in Birmingham and studied for his degree at Coventry University:
“My family has always been really supportive. Whilst I was qualifying for the Commonwealth Games, I was at still university at Coventry, and they were also hugely supportive. I still remember working on my dissertation whilst I was at a training camp in Barcelona. I would train all day and stay up all night working on my dissertation. But my university were really supportive and gave me an extension.”
Jaswant first started weightlifting at the age of 12, but in all those years, it was his experience representing Team England at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games that stands out:
“Glasgow 2014 was my first multi-sport Games, and it was only my third international. Even just qualifying for it was a really tight process and I only got it right at the end. Qualifying for that meant a lot to me and is still a really positive memory for me.”
But just two years later, in 2016, Jaswant picked up a wrist injury and experienced a tough time in his career in the years that followed:
“2016 to 2018 were really bad years for me. It was frustrating cause I had to find a balance between resting or trying for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Not being able to qualify for that Games hurt a lot because it was something I was really looking forward to. But it was just about doing what was necessary, going through rehab and focussing on the immediate objectives.”
Birmingham 2022 will be hugely inspirational.
Jaswant’s patience certainly paid off as, once healed, he had an almighty comeback with an incredible performance winning the 2019 British Championships:
“A lot of people thought I had stopped competing and had written me off so I feel like winning that championship was a really defining moment for me.
“I think a lot of it is down to the mindset I’ve had since I was young. I’ve never shied away from things that are difficult in training. So that’s built a lot of my character.
“I can’t remember who said this quote, but “if you make training hard, then it makes the competition easy” – I’ve always embraced hardship and I think that approach has really hardened my mind.”
Jaswant Shergill hopes Birmingham 2022 will give create a legacy that gives young people in the West Midlands the same passion for sport that ignited his love for weightlifting when he was a child:
“In the future I’d love to see more weightlifting clubs in Birmingham and more opportunity for young people to get into weightlifting. When I started, it wasn’t a very prominent thing in the West Midlands so hopefully the Commonwealth Games coming, that will change.
“I think Birmingham 2022 will be hugely inspirational. Birmingham being the platform for great athletes to compete at will be hugely inspirational for young people.”
Jaswant Shergill features in Birmingham 2022’s latest campaign, joined by other elite athletes who each have an association with the West Midlands.