From a makeshift gym to becoming India's first CWG para sports gold medallist: Sudhir's inspiring journey
The biggest moment of Sudhir's career in 2018 turned into a terrible tragedy. Now, after winning India's first ever Commonwealth Games gold medal in para powerlifting, he says he doesn't need stardom but just some government support.
It was around eight months ago that I came across Sudhir Lad. I had just joined the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) as a powerlifting official.
The one thing which stood out right from the start is how level-headed he came across to be. Sudhir had endured a lot of tough times in life, but he remained focused as ever.
His calm and composed nature was in display in Birmingham too. He easily lifts 220kgs to 230kgs in training, but here he was happy lifting just 217kgs and assuring the nation of gold.
If it was someone else, then probably he/she would have tried going all out and took the risk of starting with 220kgs, but not Sudhir. All he has always cared about was winning a medal. No records ever mattered.
Sudhir was just six-year-old when an injection for an infection left his legs disabled. It was at a local gym years later in 2015 that he was introduced to the world of para-powerlifting by a trainer.
He has since dedicated himself to the sport, even winning the Strong Man of India title twice and even bagging the bronze medal in the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta.
What was probably the biggest moment of his career in 2018 turned into a terrible tragedy for Sudhir and his family as his father passed away due to a cardiac arrest on the very same day while he was celebrating his son's medal.
A setback like this could have broken the strongest of athletes, but Sudhir was determined to fight back.
He continued to train hard in his village in Lath, Sonipat with whatever makeshift arrangements he could make in his home.
Till date, despite multiple letters to the authorities even before the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, he continues to train on his own in his village.
When I spoke to him after his historic gold medal, all he had to said was, "I don't need any stardom or recognition. What I want is some money and government support to train for the postponed Hangzhou Asian Para Games and the 2024 Paris Paralympics."
(The writer is with the Indian para-sports contingent in Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games 2022 in her capacity as an Paralympic Committee of India official.)