Sidhartha Babu grew up with an immense fascination for guns from a very nascent stage in his life. The ace shooter from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, was a former martial arts teacher before he met with a tragic motorcycle accident that left him paraplegic. Despite the distressing circumstances, he managed to make the most of it as he went back to his childhood love for shooting with a renewed focus on being the best.
"Being paraplegic does not restrict the flow of energy in me. Being a martial artist, I know how to build my body and work on my muscles. It has been a long journey. One fine morning, when you become paralyzed all of a sudden, your entire world changes in a moment. You have to re-learn everything. My own family did not know how to deal with this half-dead person. You can't blame them. I realized I had to start finding solutions for everything, and I had to begin from scratch," said Sidhartha in an interview with The News Minute.
He never let paraplegia limit him from attaining his goals and working towards perfection. Yet another famous story that recounted the ace Indian shooter's willpower and ability to focus despite all odds is an incident with a friend at the hospital where they both made a crossbow to continue to practice shooting in their room with the help of the Hospital staff.
"Me and a friend, who was also paralysed and stuck, made this crossbow. We asked the hospital staff to cut off a particular branch of a tree that looked like a crossbow stock with a nice pistol grip, and we made a crossbow out of it. We made trigger mechanisms and arrows with the metal head using whatever tools and materials we could find in the hospital. My friend would open his room door, which was opposite mine, so we could have more distance to the target. When the nurses would visit us, they'd yell at us to not shoot any more arrows," he said while recollecting the incident in an interview with Better India.
What makes Sidhartha's story more astounding is the fact that he learnt the art of shooting without formal training or a coach. He managed to hone his craft using the knowledge gained from books and his experience. His confidence in his abilities was such that he drove down all the way from Thiruvanathapuram to Idduki, which had the state's best shooting range. The officials there vehemently opposed him using the range as they refused to believe that someone in his condition could shoot. After a lengthy back and forth, they finally gave him the task of hitting the bullseye in five shots. Sidhartha stunned them and achieved what he set out for as he emerged victorious from the challenge. He soon became Kerala's champion in the 50-metre prone rifle category, competing against other shooters with no disabilities.
National titles followed as he broke records in the 50-m Prone Rifle Para Category during the years 2015, 2017 and 2018. He achieved this feat with his ability to research and prepare with a single-minded focus, much like the legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant. His engineering background helped him build his wheelchair according to his comfort as a pastime, he is set to use the same wheelchair to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics
. He has managed to shine at the International stage too, without a coach by his side, apart from a short stint with foreign coach Sergi Martynov from Belarus. This remarkable achievement shows us a lot about his persistence and never say die attitude. However, in an interview with TNM in 2016, the ace shooter said that he was looking for a coach and staff to enable him to take his game to the next level.
"The fact of the matter is that I'm still looking for a coach. I've managed all this because I happen to be very driven. But I think having a coach, mental health experts and a team to back you up is really important, especially for international events," he said.
The pandemic has posed many obstacles for para-athletes preparing for the Paralympics, but his proactive nature tells us that he would utilize this time wisely to gain an edge over his peers in a highly competitive environment. It would not be too far away till we have the name of yet another Indian hero etched in our minds as Sidharth Babu makes his childhood dream of becoming a hero by winning a medal and making his country proud comes true.
"I have always wanted to be a hero. Not that I wanted to save the world or something, but the thought that each human is capable of being a hero, if one lives up to the innate potential hidden inside you, that is what I focused on." He said, reports TNM.
"One has to learn to be 'perfectly' at the moment if you are aiming for the bull's eye. In the 50m event, one has to shoot 60 rounds one after the other. It has taken a lot of effort, persistence and dedication for me to reach where I am. But I don't intend to rest on my present laurels. Now, it's time for the world to know me," he added.