Confined to a wheelchair, Athokpam Suresh overcame drug addiction and the demons within to win two gold medals in individual events and another in a team event at the National Wheelchair Fencing Championship in Chennai last month. Suresh, 21, was not born disabled. But a car crash, when he was just nine, smashed his left leg and left him bound to a wheelchair for life.
A resident of Top Awang Leikai village in Manipur’s Imphal East district, Suresh’s frustration at his lack of mobility meant depression became a constant companion as he grew up.
A friend introduced him to spasmo proxibon (SP) pills in 2006 and within no time, the youngster was hooked on to them. “I couldn’t do without the capsules. They helped me get through each day,” recounted Suresh.
The year rolled over and brought with it renewed hope. Discovering her son’s malady, Suresh’s mother took him to the All Manipur Anti-Drug Association office.
It was a painstaking exercise but prolonged counselling not only helped kick the habit, the sessions helped him discover the flair for fencing.
“I used to feel shy about fencing from a wheelchair. Not anymore. Disability does not embarrass me,” he said. After turning out in several tournaments, Suresh won a silver and bronze at a meet in Jaipur last year and also represented the country at an international event in Italy.