Landing a decent 41.38metre in the discus throw qualifiers for the London Games in Malaysia, Jaideep Singh Deswal is confident of winning a medal for his country this time. The para-athlete, diagnosed with polio at the age of five, paid no heed to criticism and people’s indifference to prove his worth. “I was often looked down upon by my classmates because of the deformity. I never thought I would reach this far,” says Deswal, who is one of the youngest paralympians from India.
Deswal’s dream of winning an Olympic medal this time around may just turn into reality. “In the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, covering a distance of 45metre meant a gold. There was silver for 43metre and bronze for 42metre. Since I have reached the 41metre mark, I am very close to a podium finish,” says Deswal, who will be competing in the F42 category.
The world number six has excelled in several competitions in the past, winning three gold medals in the Para Athletic National Games, 2010, in shot put, javelin, and discus throw. He also won a gold and a silver medal in 2011 in the National Championship.
Winning mantras for the 22-year-old? “Don’t hide your disability. Have faith in your abilities and practice harder,” says Deswal.
The young champ from Rohtak is thankful to his team and the Paralympic Committee of India for their constant support and encouragement. “There was a time when even the coaches refused to train me. But I did not lose hope and prepared very hard to make a mark in this field,” he adds.