When was the last time you struggles to remember a name or a number? Well if you had repeated the same to 20 year old Vyshnavi Yarlagadda, she wouldn’t have had any problem recalling it. The young girl from Hyderabad has a unique ability, of memorising a huge number of words, names, faces, numericals, binary digits and images. And guess what, she has used her gift to her advantage. Vyshnavi was ranked second in the ‘Names and Faces’ event organised by the World Memory Sports Council in 2013. She has also achieved the feat of winning an open category medal at the World Memory Championships, which is basically a competition of memorising maximum information and recalling it. And this year, she was crowned with the ‘100 Women Achievers Award’ by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan for her achievements. Ria Das caught up with the talented youngster.
Seeking excellence apart from studies
I was into many hobbies when I was a kid and I enjoyed playing chess the most, so I pursued it professionally before I completely got into memory sports. To be honest, I got into a lot of artistic hobbies only because I never really enjoyed the typical way we were taught at school. I hated rote learning and writing impositions so much that I used to get sick. So, I always knew that I am going to do something other than just studying. My passion towards memory sports got really strong only after I won a gold medal at the world championships.
I seek inspiration from everyone and everything. There’s something or the other we can learn from everyone.
Breaking records is special
My Open Gold Medal in 2012 at the world memory championships in London! I broke my own junior world record and won a gold medal in the junior category as well as open category. I became the first Indian to win an open gold medal at the world championships in 2011. So being able to break my own records is just so special to me. I consider my International master of memory title very special too. I became the first Indian woman to achieve it.
Balancing the education with competitions
I usually set my goals with an objective to push my boundaries all the time. Ambitious but still realistic. I try my best to balance them both. I am just done with my graduation exams so I will now get back into training and championships again. I usually focus on academics from February to May and get back into training from June.
I’m juggling my time between memory sports, clinical psychology, and fashion designing (one of my passions). I am also going to launch a brain training academy called ‘Cognitrain’ very soon. Memory sports are definitely my priority but I am really trying to do my best to balance all of these.
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Passion of budding athletes is inspiring
I seek inspiration from everyone and everything. There’s something or the other we can learn from everyone. Sometimes, it’s the budding passion of the new athletes that inspires me the most. I feel it’s important to keep that passion alive to avoid getting mechanical which can happen once you reach a certain point. The only person I would call my coach is Dr. Kranthi Raj. He is the one who introduced me to this wonderful sport and changed my life!
My motto is to believe in myself and follow my dreams. I also have a quote in my room that I live by, it says “If you never try, You’ll never know!”
The ‘Women Achievers’ Award’ is a big leap
It was a great platform and I have met a lot of wonderful women who are doing so much in various fields. I am planning to collaborate with a few of them and work on introducing mnemonics into schools. It also helped the exposure of memory sports grow a tiny bit and I am proud to be representing my sport. Mind sports are very much disregarded in our country so I hope to put all the effort I can to bring the attention it deserves. I feel there is more responsibility now. I will be launching an NGO soon which will focus on spreading these techniques all over the country.
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Words of advice for fellow memory sports athletes
It is important to find the right system that’s suits their personality. Different techniques and systems work for different people. So my advice would be to be flexible and experimental with systems until they find the one that works the best for them rather than trying to train with something just because it worked for someone else. It makes a huge difference and also to just enjoy the process of pushing boundaries!
The Motto of life
It is very simple. To Believe in myself and follow my dreams. I try my best not to get stuck on stereotypes. I also have a quote in my room that I live by, it says “If you never try, You’ll never know!”