Fed up with the government's lack of support, Girisha Hosanagara Nagarajegowda almost quit athletics. He wanted to take up a job and settle down. Had it not been for his coach's support, he would have been working in some nondescript town of Karnataka.
"Those were depressing days.
I was winning medals at the nationals but nothing was working out. I was thinking of taking up a job instead. After a few months, however, the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) asked me to reconsider and it was then that my coach, Satyanarayana, motivated me to stay on and give the Paralympics a try," Girisha told HT from London.
Another thing that struck the global audience was his footwear, or rather the lack of it. "I come from a rural background and have always practiced either barefoot or in chappals. I tried running in spikes but was never comfortable, so I decided to wear a chappal on my affected leg in all major events. The IPC officials told me after the event that they found my style of jumping to be different. But for me it's natural," said Girisha.
"I never thought I would come this far. I was exposed to this level of competition for the first time and the memories will stay with me," he said.
The high jumper is now geared for other challenges. "I am set for the IPC world championships this year followed by the Asian Para-Games. I have my eyes set on gold when I take part in the Rio Paralympics."