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Tarun Sharma: A World champion undervalued in his own country

Meet Tarun Sharma, a para karate world champion who was overlooked despite bringing accolades to his country.

Tarun Sharma: A World champion undervalued in his own country

Tarun Sharma


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 20 Jun 2024 2:27 PM GMT

The story of Indian athletes getting caught in a debt trap is not unheard of. It has become the norm for athletes and the para-athletes have it worse as they struggle to compete at the global level due to a lack of funding and support from the government.

Behind every victory, there is an equal amount of sweat, blood, and failures attached to it. Therefore, it remains important to address the system's indifference toward its athletes, exemplified by the case of Tarun Sharma.

Tarun Sharma's plight

Tarun Sharma, a para karate sportsman who has won multiple medals on the global stage, has had to apply for a bank loan every single time he travels for karate tournaments in foreign countries.

In a viral video on social media, Tarun expressed his grief, "Despite being the only Indian in the World Championship to win a medal held in America, nobody has come to pick me up. I have a ₹12 lakh loan from HDFC Bank in Ludhiana. I don’t even have money to pay installments”.

He further added, "I am happy that Punjabi people in America showed me love. After returning to India, nobody has asked me anything. I am appealing because my house is mortgaged. If this continues, it will be difficult for me to continue playing”.

Champion on and off the Mat

Tarun picked up karate at the age of six, despite being paralyzed since he was six months old. He has a locomotive disability and a speech impediment. Despite the physical and financial challenges, it never stopped him from pursuing his dream of representing India and winning medals for his country.

As a vegetable seller, Tarun is funding his karate dream. Additionally, Tarun has a karate academy in Khanna, Punjab, where he trains more than 1400 underprivileged girls.

Despite being poor and struggling to make ends meet while also training India’s future, the government's support towards him has been nothing but negligible.

But Tarun is unfazed by all of his struggles and makes a request to the government and says, “I’m saying that whatever happened in the past is fine, but now I appeal to the government to help me, so that youth can be inspired by seeing me and stay away from drugs”.

It is high time for the Government of India and the respective state governments to take note of every athlete and support them in the best possible way.

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