Sri Vyshnavi Yarlagadda is an International Master of Memory and attained her career best rank no 2 in October 2013 in Names and Faces event by the World Memory Sports Council. She is the first Indian to win an open category medal at the World Memory Championships. She achieved this feat by winning the Gold medal in Names and Faces event at the 20th World Memory Championship 2011 at Guangzhou, China.
Hyderabad-based Sri Vyshnavi Yarlagadda has won the ‘International Grand Memory’ title for the third time held recently in Indonesia
She is the first Indian to set a Junior World Record and also the first Indian Woman to win a Gold medal in World Junior Memory Championships. She gained a hat-trick in 2012 by winning the gold medal on 14 December 2012 at the World Memory Championship in London.
She was honoured by the then President of India, Pranab Mukherjee as one of the top 100 women achievers of India on 22 January 2016 at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Recently she won the ‘International Grand Memory’ title for the third time held at Indonesia. Speaking with The Hans India, Sri Vyshnavi Yarlagadda shared her journey in the memory field.
What inspired you to enter the memory field?
I was a professional chess player before I got into memory sports. My mother thought learning memory techniques might help me get better at chess. That's how I got introduced to the field. I consider it as one of the most extreme mind sports. It pushes the boundaries beyond what one can imagine, and I find it really addictive.
How did a shift from chess to memory competitions happen?
Well, it wasn’t planned. But memory sports demand a lot of spontaneous creativity that makes it very challenging and fun. It is unpredictable, and I have always been a person who is drawn towards such things. I think it was also because I got addicted to the fact that I was being able to do things that once felt like an insane dream.
What is your first achievement in the memory field?
I won a gold medal and broke a world record in my first world championships in 2010. I became the first Asian to win an open category gold in ‘Names and Faces’ at the world championships.
How many titles have you won so far?
I have won 6-gold medals at the world championships, 3 World Records, International Master of Memory title and the Grandmaster of Memory title. Apart from these, I have won more than 50 national and international medals so far.
Could you explain the competition mode of International Grand Memory?
We have 10-different disciplines (We must memorise as many numbers, binary digits, lists of words, images, fictional dates, names and faces, spoken numbers and playing cards as possible in the given time). The winner of each discipline wins a gold and the athlete with the highest overall score wins the title. For the Grandmaster title, we must be able to memorize more than 1000 numbers and 10 decks of playing cards in an hour and an entire deck of cards under 120 seconds.
What would you say is the best moment in your journey till date?
There are many, but I would say the best moment was when I won the open category Gold Medal in Names and Faces in 2011. That made me the first junior in the world to have won an open gold medal. It gave me a lot of confidence that I can do much better.
How did your family react to this incredible journey?
I couldn’t have expected more. My family has always supported my choices and pushed me to do better. I wouldn’t even dream of doing such without them.
You have also won Woman Achievers Award in 2016, could you elaborate us on it?
It was in 2016. The Government of India and the Ministry of Women and Child Development introduced the #100Women initiative to recognise and encourage women achievers from various fields. I was one amongst the five women in the sports category. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I felt great to be recognised along with other amazing women who are making a difference in the world through their work.
What are your future plans? Any plans to set up an institution to train students in this field?
Yes, I have been training a few athletes for the last two years, but I am planning to take it full-fledged and spread the techniques that I use to help students learn faster and efficiently. I’m working on setting it up right now.
Do you advice on any specific tips for budding participants?
Keep training regularly and trust the process because it takes an effort to get better at it. Experiment with a few different Mnemonic Systems and find what works for you as different systems work for different people.