Having won over 60 medals, para swimmer Niranjan Mukundan is India's hope at Tokyo Paralympics
We take a look at one of the most decorated Indian swimmers as he prepares for his first Paralympics
He was given a choice between horse riding and swimming to aid his condition. While the young boy couldn't hit it off with the four-legged animal, the water stuck by his side through thick and thin. Now, years later, para swimmer Niranjan Mukundan will be representing the country at his first Paralympics in Tokyo, and we can't wait for him to make a splash!
From a young age, he had shown great promise in navigating the waters inside a pool. Born with spina bifida, an underdeveloped spine impeded his movement as his lower body had been paralysed till he was five. Once he was in the water, he was invincible. Through slow and steady training and unwavering determination, he improved his game and started to become a serious para-athlete.
With a knack for reaching unexplored heights, it didn't take him long to win a medal. At the mere age of nine, Niranjan won silver at a National-level meet in Mumbai. Once he got the taste of winning, he was unstoppable.
Having won over 60 medals through his career till date, Mukundan received the mantle of being the only para swimmer to win more than 50 international medals. Perhaps his best medal haul yet was at the 2014 IWAS World Junior games at Stoke Mandeville, UK when he won a total of eight medals.
He even won the bronze medal at the 2014 Para Asian Games, clinching third place in the 400m relay event. Apart from his plethora of honours, the 26-year old swimmer also broke the Asian record in the 200m backstroke when he participated in the 2018 World Para-swimming World Series.
2019 was a good year for the promising talent, both in terms of his sport as well as media attention. The athlete was featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 list, which highlighted prominent Asian members from the Sports and Entertainment industries.
Right after this honour, he jumped back into the water to win a gold and a silver at the World Series, which were held in Brazil that year.
Despite some Covid-19 related setbacks, the Bengaluru swimmer officially received a bi-partite quota, this August, to participate in the Tokyo Paralympics. He will be swimming in the Men's 50m butterfly event, in the S7 category.
This time India is hoping to win medals in swimming events since the heroics of Murlikant Petkar at the 1972 Paralympics. All eyes will be on the newcomer as he hopes for a confident performance on the 3rd of September.