Legendary Indian para-athlete and Limca World Record holder K.Y. Venkatesh was honoured with the Padma Shri on Monday. Born with achondroplasia-induced dwarfism that stunted his growth to 4”2’, the man from Karnataka has overcome enormous battles throughout his life and emerged victorious more often than not.
In 2005, he established the aforementioned world record when he bagged six medals in various sports at the 4th World Dwarf Games. However, his career in athletics started way back. In 1994, represented India at the first International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Berlin. That was just the start of a long adventure that has seen him win medals in multiple games including athletics, basketball, hockey, volleyball, football and badminton. He won his first international gold five years later in a multi disability championship in Austria for shot put.
Thereafter, he has represented the nation in track and field events as well as other sports winning accolades and medals along the way. He picked up a silver medal for badminton at the LG World Cup 2002 as well as three gold and two silver medals in shot put, discus throw and javelin throw at the Open Track and Field Championship 2004. The same year, he also bagged one gold, two silver and one bronze medal at the Swedish Open Track & Field Championship. He also won a gold medal in the hockey event, silver medals in football and basketball events and bronze medal in the badminton event of the European Open Championships 2006.
Now 48, Venkatesh has been working in the administration, development and promotion of various sports amongst people with disabilities since his retirement in 2012. He was also the secretary of the Karnataka Para Badminton Association for the Disabled before moving on to attending an IPC accredited coaching, technical and classification course in wheelchair basketball. His aim, to promote the sport in India. Although the government has previously sent him as the team escort to a number of international events, awarding him with the Padma Shri is only fitting for the amount of glory that he has brought to this country.