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Powered by TOPS, Simran Sharma targets gold medal at Paris Paralympics

Para-athlete Simran Sharma will target gold at the 2024 Paris Paralympics with support from SAI under the TOPS.

Powered by TOPS, Simran Sharma targets gold medal at Paris Paralympics

Simran clinched the gold medal in women's 200m T12 category at World Para Athletics Championships. (Photo credit: World Para Athletics Championships)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 14 Jun 2024 2:33 PM GMT

From being mocked for her visual impairment to winning gold in the recent World Para Athletics Championships in Kobe, Japan, Simran Sharma has come a long way. Coached by her husband Gajendra Singh, who works for the Army Service Corps, she trains regularly at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi.

Simran’s hard work and resilience helped her overcome physical and socio-economic challenges and clinch the T12 200m gold in style at the World Championships. The 26-year-old emerged winner in 24.95 seconds, an improvement from her previous personal best time of 25.16 seconds.

Not one to rest on her laurels, Simran targets podium finishes in the T-12 100m and 200m sprints in the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games, scheduled from August 28 to September 8. “My coach suggests that once an event is completed, I should look at the next one,” she said, recalibrating her targets.

“He told me now that the World Championships is over, start training for the next major event. So, the season’s next target is the Paralympics. If I am fit and injury-free, I will try bringing two gold medals for the country,” Simran told SAI Media.

Simran has been winning the National Championship and the Indian Open in both the 100m and 200m since 2022. She also won two silver medals in the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou last year. She also won three gold in the 100m, 200m, and long jump in the inaugural Khelo India Para Games in December 2023 and was inducted in the Target Olympic Podium Scheme.

Simran could have clinched gold in the 100m also but was disqualified due to a false start. This resulted in immense pressure for her to clinch the berth for the Paralympics through the 200m race. Naturally, she was glad to have booked her ticket to the French capital.

“I always had this dream that I be the reason for playing our National Anthem in an international tournament like the World Championships. I got disqualified in 100m. Thereafter, I competed in the 200m heats and made the semifinals, where I came second. I was a bit nervous about whether I would claim gold,” she revealed.

“I sat and recalled the number of times I got injured and the challenges I faced through seven years before reaching this position. The intention was to give my best shot and I prayed God to give me the strength to fulfill everyone’s expectations. I took the lead on the bend itself and am very happy that I clinched the place for Paris,” Simran said.

Simran was born prematurely and spent the next 10 weeks in an incubator where it was discovered that she is visually impaired. Born to a medical practitioner Manoj Kumar and Savita Sharma, a housewife, Simran always knew that it was challenging to think of becoming a sportsperson.

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympian’s tryst with the track began in her hometown Modinagar in Ghaziabad.

“My father was bedridden for 14 to 15 years and my mother is a housewife, so financially we were in a very bad situation, and thinking of pursuing sports as a career was very difficult,” she said.

However, a meeting with her eventual husband Gajendra Singh at MM College grounds in Modinagar in 2015 helped her take up running. Gajendra worked on building her muscle strength and stamina before concentrating on her technique. There were times when they would request the Modinagar stadium to be available late in the night after he returned from work.

The couple tied the knot in 2017 amid resistance from families. “When we went to train, people used to tease me for being visually impaired and for running a pair of shorts. I realized that if I had the support of my husband, I need nothing else,” she said.

In 2019, Simran competed in the World Para Grand Prix to receive her T13 license. However, Gajendra had to sell off a portion of his land to finance the license. He said he was glad that she had proved everyone who mocked her wrong. “When she won gold in Japan, I told them all ‘My wife is a world champion’. I am sure she will make India proud,” he said.

“I am thankful to SAI and the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) for the support and for letting me compete in the Asian Para Games without selection trials. I was coming back from a hamstring injury suffered during the World Championships. But I clinched two silver medals in Hangzhou and that was a huge relief,” Simran said.

She now dreams of being on the Paralympic Games podium in just a few months.

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