Ajit Singh can't walk, moves in a wheelchair, needs help for even the most basic chores. He is paralysed chest down. Five years ago, he was the under-18 inter-zonal national champion in pole vault.
Such is the nature of sport. Ajit, while trying to clear 4.20 during a school nationals, had a terrible fall. He survived but never recovered fully from his spine injury. Left behind by the world of sport, he was reduced to a footnote in moth-eaten record books.
But Ajit can't stay away from the sport. He still trains youngsters at the Vaish School in Bhiwani near his village of Devasar, teaches youngsters the nuances of pole vaulting and more than anything else, how to be mentally tough. He fends off all adversities in life with a strong will and a smile.
“I slipped from the mat after landing and broke my spinal cord. At that time it was all over for me. I couldn't even sit for six months and after that I required a person to help me do almost everything. At that time my life was finished,” said the 22-year-old athlete.
“I love athletics and that brought me here,” said Ajit, here for the junior national championship. Though he seems happy and love to be among athletes, deep within there's turmoil.
“I am not complaining, and I have managed to survive these many years with the help of my family and friends, it's just that a little help from the sports ministry (both state and centre) would have helped,” he said.
Ajit has gone through couple of operations on the spine and even tried stem cell treatment and spent around Rs 20 lakh for his treatment. One of his kidneys has failed and other is 80 per cent functional. His parents even had to mortgage land to arrange the money.All he got was Rs 97,000 from the Bhiwani Sports Council. His monthly expenditure, including medicines, is around Rs 25000.
“I have submitted medical bills to the state health department and even applied for the Union Sports Ministry's pension, but didn't get any response,” he said.
“When I was injured, there where three-four lads from my village into athletics. After my injury, all of them left the sport,” he added.