Ranchi: Frail looking and just four-and-half feet tall, A V Jayaveena, at first failed to draw much attention in the pool of the 34th National Games here.
She may be all of 12 but this Tamil Nadu girl has outpaced many top notch swimmers of the country, and her biggest moment came in the 50m breaststroke when she pushed Richa Mishra to fifth en route to clinching a silver.
Jayaveena, incidentally, considers Richa her swimming idol.
Fittingly, Richa went up to congratulate Jayaveena and even directed the autograph-hunters to the Chennai girl. "Take her autograph... She (Jayaveena) is the next star," Richa said, something that obviously made the young talent proud of her feat.
"It's a great moment for me. I'm really happy to beat my idol," Jayaveena, who also has picked two bronze medals in the Games, said.
At her maiden National Games, when Jayaveena took part in her first competition (50m freestyle), the 12-year-old was nervous with the final list featuring Richa, Goan top swimmer Talasha Prabhu, and Maharashtra's Rujuta Bhatt among others.
"It was not my favourite event. With all the top swimmers besides me, I was a little nervous... I finished behind Richa for the bronze which gave me immense confidence," Jayaveena said.
The next day, in her pet event, 50m breaststroke, Jayaveena finished ahead of Richa for the silver as Maharashtra's Poorva Shetye won the gold.
Daughter of noted Tamil Nadu actor Vijay Kumar who is nicknamed 'Thalaivasal' for his superhit movies, Jayaveena could have opted for films but instead she chose to be a swimmer, taking inspiration from her elder brother V Jaywant.
Having picked up swimming as a hobby at the age of three, it soon became a passion and she came under the tutelage of B Girish at the Turtle's Swim Centre in Chennai.
"She was sent to a summer camp where she learnt swimming. Gradually swimming became her passion as she also got into competition taking inspiration from my elder son," Vijay told.