National-level powerlifting champion reduced to clerical job to nourish career
Rahul Kumar, 26, a national-level champion in powerlifting has been reduced to working as a clerk for an advocate to make barely enough for the diet required to support his career.punjab Updated: Aug 07, 2014 23:39 IST
Rahul Kumar, 26, a national-level champion in powerlifting has been reduced to working as a clerk for an advocate to make barely enough for the diet required to support his career.
Having won gold medals in several national- and state-level competitions, Kumar now fears the worst - giving up his sporting career due to absence of sufficient finances.
A gold medallist in the India Natural Powerlifting Championship, 2011, in the 60kg weight category, Kumar later won gold in the Punjab Natural Powerlifting Championship in the same weight category in 2012, and won a silver in the state powerlifting championship held in Patiala in the subsequent year. His latest achievement is a silver medal in the 66kg weight category at the Punjab State Powerlifting Championship held at Rajpura in January this year.
Despite having all these medals under his belt, apart from working as a clerk, Kumar assists his father, who is a tea vendor, at his stall to make sufficient funds for his daily diet of a powerlifter.
"A powerlifter's career thrives on a balanced diet, and lack of it clearly reflects on the performance. Yet the state government has not paid much attention to powerlifters, despite their performances," Kumar rued.
"The existing equipment at the hall in Rakh Bagh has been arranged by our coaches from their pockets or the District Weighlifting and Powerlifting Association without any assistance from the sports department. Worse, even while representing the district or the state in any state- or national-level competitions, we have to spend on our own," he added.
The powerlifter further said, "With age, my weight category has also increased and so have the expenses required for my diet. It is disheartening to spend most of my earnings on my sport, even when my family needs my support."
However, the player wishes to keep going despite the odds.
On the recent victory of city-based weightlifter Vikash Thakur at the Commonwealth Games, he said, "We used to practice together at the weightlifting hall. It feels great to see players from among us not just representing the country but also winning a silver medal at an international event of this stature. It has certainly boosted my confidence."
Speaking to HT, Kumar's coach Parvesh Sharma said, "We have been ourselves managing equipment for the players since the inception of the association. Leave aside the diet, which is the most vital aspect for a powerlifter's career and equipment (worth lakhs per set) which are arranged by us by pooling in, the sports department has not even cared to spend a single penny for the upkeep of the weightlifting hall ever since it was built in 1987."
Sharma added that, "Witnessing no encouragement or recognition even after winning medals at national-level championships, with the passage of time many powerlifters have quit the game and others are considering leaving it for want of financial support."