Standing on own feat, para-athletes won’t give up
ROHTAK/PANCHKULA/BALLABGARH: On a fateful September evening in 2007, Amit Kumar Saroha’s life changed forever. A road accident left him with severe spinal injuries, confining the sturdy youngster to a life on a wheelchair. But Amit, a former junior national hockey player, was not willing to let fate have the final say.
Amit soon found his calling in para-sports, short for ‘parallel sports’ for people with disability. As he dished out a series of medal winning performances in discuss and club throw, including in international events, awards and accolades followed. His disability was no longer a burden and he was financially independent.
Amit, 31, is now an assistant coach in the Haryana sports department. The state awarded Rs 4 crore to him for his achievements and in 2013, he was conferred the country’s highest sporting honour, the Arjuna Award.
Across India, para-sport has allowed hundreds of people with disabilities to take control of their lives, giving them economic freedom and respect in a society which generally looks down on the physically-challenged.
Hardly recognised around a decade ago, state governments are also acknowledging the achievements of para-athletes and rewarding them with cash and jobs. “There was a time when disabled people were a burden on the family, but para-sports has changed all that. Now, the same families take pride in their achievements. No longer are they dependent on their families. Rather, they are contributing to the family’s income,” said Amit, who hails from Sonepat.
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Para-athletes at the National Para Athletics championship in Panchkula.