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I find no reason for the distinction between Paralympians and Olympians | By Sachin Chaudhary

I find no reason for the distinction between Paralympians and Olympians | By Sachin Chaudhary

Sachin Chaudhury

Published: 15 March 2018 5:16 AM GMT
When you're born, you are at the mercy of those around you. There is nothing much you can do for yourself. I was born to a simple farmer's family in a UP village near Meerut. Before I was old enough to walk, it seems like the universe had other plans for me. All it took was one previously used syringe from a village quack, which infected me with Polio that robbed me of the opportunity to grow up like every other child. It was a pretty sour lemon that life offered to me but as I grew up, the decision was mine, and I decided to make lemonade out of a pretty sour situation. Today, you may know me as a para powerlifter but back in the day, my initiation into the world of athletics was through shot put. However, shot put required a lot of leg power, especially during the taking of turns before the throw but with my legs, it became too hard. I decided to shift my focus towards powerlifting.
Funnily enough, I was completely oblivious to the existence of para-sports and had already begun competing in mainstream powerlifting professionally. By then, I had left shot put behind and I had dedicated myself to powerlifting and I decided to make the most of it. Coming from a kisaan family, coupled with a physical difficulty, there are more than a few obstacles that I had to face but the one thing that has remained constant in my life is the support of my family. 'Jo man chahe, wahi karo', is what my family always told me and that has given me immense confidence without which I would not have gotten this far.
Also read: Boxers have failed to win more than an Olympic bronze-Is that our benchmark? I find no reason for the distinction between Paralympians and Olympians. I became a Paralympian in 2012 in London and this year it is going to be my fourth Commonwealth Games. I have represented my country in so many tournaments, and would really just like to be treated as an international athlete, same as our Olympians. It's equally hard for us Paralympians when it comes to training and sacrifices so it would feel great if we received the same amount of respect and support. Even though powerlifting is my passion, I am not a starry-eyed child anymore and I have understood the hurdles that one has to overcome when you decide to make your passion the source of your bread and butter, because at the end of the day you need security. For us, it is difficult to make a successful living out of para powerlifting.
If we receive help from the state and centre, it is only going to better our performance as we would be able to concentrate on our performance far better if we did not have the question of our future looming large in the horizon. If I take my instance, my life beyond powerlifting is always a source of distress. I cannot stress enough of how much would be taken care of if the government steps in and decides to take care of this. Like all athletes, I have had my own share of troubles but I would much rather talk about how I overcame them than dwell on the negative aspects of my career. 2014 was an unfortunate year for me. Not being able to take part in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games was a huge blow.
But I did not let this setback deter me from carrying on.  The only way to look towards was the future and so I started working harder than ever, promising myself to never look back, to never give up. Look at me now, I have managed to make a comeback, ready to lift the world on my shoulders. But for para-athletes like us, making a comeback is not the easiest thing to do. This is where I will remain eternally grateful to the GoSports Foundation. Coming from my humble background, you get one shot to have your say. If you screw your hour up on the stage, it is usually a goner. I did not have the means to pay for the numerous expenses that were staring at me. GoSports took me by the hand and brought me back on the stage.
Now that I have successfully returned to compete professionally, my eyes are on the gold medal spot on the CWG podium. It is my one point programme to make India proud. I will do all that it takes to do so. However, qualifying for the 2020 Paralympics is also something that is constantly on my mind. The feeling of being an Olympian, it is incomparable. I may have won the silver medal at the world cup but no medal can take the place of Olympics. Taking part in the Paralympics is the single greatest moment of my life and I want to relive it and taste the joy of it once again. I know the lure of Olympics, medals, championships are a great source of inspiration for a lot of youngsters and don't get me wrong, it is great to want to make your mark in sports. But at this point in my life, I have seen a lot.
I have had my share of troubles. I want people to know that it is not all glamorous when you put yourself in the narrative than simply reading about it. The struggle is real. I still remember the 2010 Asian Games. Less than a week before my event, I found out that I had gained 5kgs. Can you imagine the kind of training I had to endure to lose all that extra weight in a matter of 5 days. So it's not always pretty once you're in the game. Also read: I was the only girl competing and playing with a pack of boys Don't get me wrong, few things are more beautiful than watching young children take a keen interest in sports. But it is also important for them to understand the pros and cons of it. This is why I keep talking about life security.
This is especially my message to little children who are born with disabilities and are determined to not let that hamper their dreams in any way. The track, the field, the ring can be yours if you try hard. But it is not an easy road that you are looking at. The hardships you will have to endure are many in numbers, the rewards are not nearly enough. Thankfully, the government has started supporting para-athletes tremendously since the past two years. There is so much talent, so many looking to make India proud earnestly. All they need is a helping hand. I hope one day, people will see no difference between us and those competing in mainstream sports.
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