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'A big honour to represent the Tamil community' - Meet Canada's National Wrestling Champions, Aaharen and Adsaya Piranavan

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Pictured from left to right: Aaharen Piranavan, Piranavan Nantheeswarar, Japalini Piranavan, and Adsaya Piranavan 

Tamil Guardian sat down with national winners of the 2024 Canadian Wrestling Championships, Adsaya and Aaharen Piranavan, accompanied by their parents, to discuss their passion for martial arts, healthy sibling rivalries, and the challenges immigrant parents face when trying to provide a better life for their children. 

Tamil Canadian siblings Adsaya (17) and Aaharen Piranavan (15) from Pickering, Ontario, were both crowned national winners in the cadet U17 category at the 2024 Canadian Wrestling Championships that took place from 14 March to 17 March.  

When asked how they felt after winning national wrestling titles, Aaharen responded that he was very proud his hard work and determination paid off. He added that it is “a big honour to be able to represent the Tamil community as well as represent Canada.” Adsaya stated that the results shocked her, it was only after she left the podium and was reunited with her team that she realized she had just become a national wrestling champion. 

Their parents, Piranavan Nantheeswarar and Japalini Piranavan expressed great pride in their children’s accomplishments. Piranavan said initially he was nervous given that this would be a major tournament. However, he was confident in their abilities, knowing that Aaharen and Adsaya have demonstrated an unwavering dedication and passion for wrestling. Japalini shared that she was very happy that they both competed, she was proud that they won together as siblings and as Tamils. 

Their wins were not only celebrated by their family but also by the broader Tamil community. Both siblings said that the overwhelmingly positive reaction from the community was surprising. For Aaharen it was very cool seeing different members of the community like “Never Have I Ever” star, Mayetri Ramakrishnan, congratulate them. 

Aaharen and Adsaya’s journey in martial arts started at a young age when their parents enrolled them in Jiu-Jitsu at the ages of 4 and 7 respectively. Their father explained that his initial reason for registering the kids in martial arts was to help build their self-confidence and equip them with self-defense skills. 

However, Piranavan stated that he did not anticipate his kids would quickly climb the ranks and become some of the best young martial artists in the country. Prior to becoming national wrestling champions Adsaya and Aaharen achieved remarkable success in provincial and international competitions. 

Aaharen is a four-time Provincial Champion in Jiu-Jitsu, a four-time North American Grappling Champion, a three-time Pan American Champion, and a three-time Provincial Champion in wrestling. He also made history in Grade 9 when he became his school’s first Ontario Federation of Secondary Athletic Association (OFSAA) wrestling champion. 

Adsaya is a three-time Provincial Champion in Jiu-Jitsu, a one-time North American Grappling Association Champion, and a three-time Provincial Champion in wrestling. She is also a two-time OFSAA silver medalist for wrestling.  

A team effort and a healthy sibling rivalry

A playful sibling rivalry has helped them strengthen their skills and become greater competitors. Adsaya says that seeing her younger brother excel in martial arts drove her to train harder and work to be better than him. Their dad explained that competition has always been a feature of the relationship between Adsaya and Aaharen, from sports to academics to finishing dinner the two have competed in everything. 

When asked how they overcome nerves before a big tournament, the siblings noted that their coaches have played an integral role in mentally preparing them. They are both a part of Durham’s Team Impact Wrestling Club. Piranavan emphasized that the Team Impact coaches can provide holistic physical and mental training that ensures they are well-prepared for any competition that lies ahead of them. 

The siblings also rely on their coaches for motivation during their rigorous training. Aaharen said that in addition to the support of his team in keeping him motivated, he pushes himself by setting the goal of winning a national title at the end of every season. Adsaya, on the other hand, finds motivation by thinking about how hard her opponents are training which drives her to work even harder. 

Setting up future generations for success as immigrant parents

Adsaya and Aaharen’s parents recognized their skill and potential to succeed in martial arts once they started competing. However, supporting their success was not without obstacles. Piranavan spoke about the large financial and time commitments that come with training and competing. In season both siblings train approximately 20-25 hours per week. 

In terms of financial commitments, Piranavan explains that they often have to come up with large sums of money at a moment's notice to send their children to various training programs and competitions. One such competition is the upcoming Pan-American championship in the Dominican Republic which will cost the family close to $4300 per child. That price includes the cost of training, licenses, accommodations, and flights. The family is planning on organizing a fundraiser to help cover some of the expenses. 

Despite the occasional stress that funding Adsaya and Aaharen’s martial arts careers can bring, their parents emphasize that their primary goal is to ensure they are setting up future generations for success. Piranavan Nantheeswarar immigrated to Canada in 1988, and Japalini Piranavan came to Canada from Sri Lanka in 2005. Both parents expressed that they never want Adsaya and Aaharen to endure the same struggles they have experienced as immigrant parents. 

What’s next?

The experience of training and competing in martial arts has also shaped the siblings as individuals. Adsaya explained that wrestling can be a very humbling experience. It has taught her discipline and the ability to think on her feet. Aaharen says wrestling has shown him most of the winning is done during practice. He applies this principle that preparation is key in all other aspects of his life.

Outside of wrestling Adsaya does Bharatanatyam, her favourite subject in school is math, and she says that she is thinking of pursuing an engineering degree after graduating high school. Aaharen would like to be a physiotherapist or a chiropractor so he can give back to the community by helping athletes like himself become stronger and more confident. 

When asked what their goals are for the future of their wrestling careers Aaharen says that he would like to compete in the Olympics and win a gold for Canada. Adsaya hopes to stay healthy and become a world wrestling champion. For their parents, the only wish they have is that both children are happy and successful no matter what they do in their lives. 

To support Adsaya and Aaharen contact them here and here.

All images provided by Piranavan Nantheeswarar.

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