Challenged they are and the challenge they love. A group of about 15 people who had been written off by the fate, are sweating there in the playground with the sole aim of bringing laurels to the country and getting rewarded with a government job.
Two of them — Karam Jyoti of Chiri and Sunil Phogat of Bhalot village — have recently bagged medals in their respective games at 2nd China Open Championship held in Beijing from April 12 to April 16. Karam Jyoti, who had received a grave injury in a 2007 accident, bagged two medals in the event in discus throw and shot-put, while Sunil won bronze medal in discus throw.
Though the duo had represented the country under the banner of Para-Federation of India, but they had to bear the expenses (travelling, accommodation and diet) to the tune of Rs. 1.50-lakh on their own. Jyoti and Phogat took personal loans to meet other expenses such as arranging wheelchair and sports throwing chair to perform at the international event.
Phogat said that their real target was getting government job under the sports quota in line with the government policy — 'padak layo, pad payo' — and that's why they were practising hard for the October Para-Olympic Asian Championship at Incheon, South Korea.
On the kind of support they receive from sports department, he said that except coach and sports equipment like shot put, javelin and discus, they have to bear the expenses of everything else like sports throwing chair, food and accommodation.
Sandeep Kumar, a national medallist in discus throw and shot-put from Bhalot village here, said that they all belonged to lower-middle class families where sports was not seen as a career option.
Sandeep, Joginder Kumar, Rohit Kumar from Roorki village are also eyeing government job through their performance in the Para-Olympic games.
Amarjit Singh, coach from state sports department, who have been giving them specialised training at Rajiv Gandhi Sports Complex here for over two years, said, "All the challenged athletes practise for over six hours daily in two sessions.
They have to travel from their villages despite the fact that a little jerk during travelling or sporting activity can cause big damage to their spinal chord." He hoped that all of them would bring laurels to the country. He said he had big hopes from those who got qualified at the China championship.
Long wait for cash award
Sandeep Kumar, one of the Para-Olympic athletes here, said that many of them had won gold medals in their respective events in the national games at Bangaluru in March 2013 but they were yet to receive cash award of Rs. 2 lakh per award. It has become difficult for them to afford their sports expenses, he added.