In a country where numerous Olympics sportspersons don’t really get their due, para-athletes tend to be an even more ignored lot. Their achievements – eight medals in Paralympics over the last ten editions – often go unnoticed. But on Thursday, the para-athlete movement in India got a major fillip with a sports development institution roping in a major corporate house for a programme that will contribute for the improvement of para-athletes in India.
GoSports Foundation, a Bangalore-based not-for profit venture working on sports development, announced a tie-up with IndusInd For Sports – the non-banking sports arm of IndusInd Bank – for a para-athlete development programme. The programme, titled IndusInd Umang, will lend support to 20 para-athletes who are associated with the foundation.
The para-athletes, five of them including world-record holder and Paralympics gold medallist javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, were thrilled with the support lent to them, especially in the wake of the Paralympics federation being in tatters.
“For me, sport is about identity,” said Deepa Malik, a 45-year-old multi-faceted athlete who took to para-sport after multiple tumours in her thirties paralysed her chest down. “A differently abled person finds it difficult to be treated equally but sport gave me the identity and recognition.”
While Malik found sport as a means to fill the vaccum, sport has been a passion for Suyash Jadhav since childhood. Jadhav, an aspiring swimmer, was electrocuted by an unprotected wire at a construction site in Grade 6 and found both his arms amputated. However, he continued to swim and has already qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
“For me, sport is a passion. If you are passionate about something, you tend to give it everything. Now that we have received great support with funding and with other support programmes in place, I am sure we will continue to impress at the international level.”
Jhajharia, gold medallist at Athens 2004 and the first differently abled athlete to have been honoured with Padma Shri, signed off with a promise to impress at Rio. “While Suyash and I have already qualified for Rio, so many of us have been planning to compete in various international meets over the next few months and book an Olympics ticket,” Jhajharia said. “I assure with an excellent support system in place, we will bring more laurels to the country for Rio.”
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