Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli has enhanced his stature by his rejection of a multi-crore offer to endorse a soft drink. Kohli said soft drinks don’t find a place in his uncompromising training regimen. “Since I was not taking 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,” said the skipper of the team in all formats of the game. “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,” he added. Almost two decades ago, P. Gopi Chand, currently the chief national badminton coach, had 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. Endorsement of the brand that Gopi refused was coveted by celebrities of high standing in the entertainment business because of its lucrative monetary reward and its high prestige value. Kohli and Gopi joined hands recently to launch annual sports awards for those promoting excellence. Apparently, Kohli was taken in by Gopi’s principled approach.
Kohli’s 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. “Since I was not taking 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,” he elaborated. “I first convince myself I can do it and only then ask my teammates to go for it,” he told a newspaper recently. The underlying message in the approaches of both Kohli and Gopi is that aerated soft drinks can harm health as some studies and surveys have shown. Regular consumption of sugary drinks is linked to numerous health problems including diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD and obesity.