Virat Kohli believes in practising what he preaches. It is in keeping with this principle that the India captain has rejected a multi-crore offer to endorse a soft drink. Kohli confirmed to The Hindu that he declined the offer for the simple reason that he does not consume aerated drinks.
They don’t find a place in his uncompromising training regimen. His philosophy of trying to be in the best possible physical and mental shape when competing at the highest level has also rubbed off on many in the Indian team. Kohli once told this reporter that as captain, he doesn’t demand anything of his teammates that he “can’t do first”.
“I first convince myself I can do it and only then ask my teammates to go for it,” he said. Almost two decades ago, P. Gopi Chand, currently the chief national badminton coach, made a similar decision and turned down a lucrative offer.
“I was into yoga, meditation and a strict diet,” says Gopi. “I had taken a vow not to have any soft drink, and when I won the all-England title [in 2001], I had this big offer. “Since I was not taking (sic) any soft drinks, I did not wish to be seen as encouraging others to drink just because I was getting a huge amount for it.”
“As a kid, I would long for a soft drink,” he confesses, “but it doesn’t work well with professional sportspersons. At my academy, you won’t find soft drinks in the canteen.” What has he told his celebrated wards — Saina Nehwal, P.V. Sindhu, P. Kashyap? “I have not stopped them from endorsing a soft drink. It’s their choice. But I have told them not to have soft drinks,” he says, chuckling.
Incidentally, Kohli and Gopi joined hands recently to launch annual sports awards for those promoting excellence.