Tokyo Paralympics 2020: I’ll be competing against myself, says Amit Kumar Saroha

Amit Kumar Saroha is one of the most experienced para-athletes in India’s 54-member contingent and will be competing in his third successive Paralympics.

File picture of Amit Kumar Saroha.   -  Special Arrangement

Amit Kumar Saroha is one of the most experienced para-athletes in India’s 54-member contingent and will be competing in his third successive Paralympics.

But the road to Tokyo Paralympics wasn't an easy one for the two-time World Championship silver medallist in F51 club throw as he contracted COVID-19 just before the selection trials in New Delhi. “Covid has significantly affected even an ordinary person and when there was already a severe disability like mine, it created even more problems,” Saroha, who suffered quadriplegia after a car accident in 2007, said.

READ: Full India Schedule at Tokyo Paralympics 2021, Dates, Events, Fixtures

“Obviously, there were many problems physically as every time I’d start training (after recovering from Covid-19), some complication would occur. Such was the situation around the country that it also mentally disturbed many. But I feel that as an athlete, we are strong to fight any circumstances. I have overcome difficult situations in the past. I knew I will get through this hurdle too, just like I always have," he said.

Amit Kumar Saroha received the Arjuna Award in 2013.   -  R. V. Moorthy

 

Giving him company and competition in Tokyo will be his student Dharambir who has also qualified for the men’s club throw event. Ekta Bhayan, who considers Amit Saroha as her mentor, will also be making her debut in the women’s F51 club throw event at the Paralympics. “The problem is that in Indian sports, people don’t think about anyone else apart from themselves. Being a senior athlete, it is our responsibility that we push other athletes in different sports too so that the future generation is encouraged and gets benefitted from our experience,” said the Arjuna awardee.

READ: All you need to know about the Indian contingent

Three years ago, at Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Amit and Dharambir had both finished on the podium with gold and silver medals respectively. “It was a proud moment for me that we both were on the podium,” said Amit.

The competition for Amit will be tough as the field consists of reigning Olympic champion and world record holder, Zeljko Dimitrijevic of Serbia and Marian Kureja of Slovakia who had beaten Amit by 0.19m for bronze in Rio. When asked about his biggest competition, Amit said, “Every single athlete will be well prepared and it is not like I’m considering someone a big competitor. I’ll be competing against myself and will try to give my best. I am not targeting or focusing on anyone else.”

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