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Para-athlete Jasvant Kumar overcomes adversity, father’s death to win gold

Para-athlete Jasvant Kumar, returning to competition after a gap of five years, won gold in the javelin throw -- men’s B1 category (100 percent visually impaired) -- at the National Games for the Blind, recording a distance of 21.98 metres.

other sports Updated: Jan 16, 2018 16:58 IST
Amarpal Singh
Amarpal Singh
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Jasvant Kumar,Para-athlete,Para athletics
Para-athlete Jasvant Kumar, who is a 100 percent visually impared javelin thrower, stopped competing in 2012, after his father’s death put the family under big financial distress.(HT Photo)

His father’s death in 2012 put his family under dire financial distress, forcing Jasvant Kumar, who hails from Rajasthan, to leave the world of sports. The 28-year-old fully blind para-athlete has made a triumphant return to the arena this year, winning gold at the National Games for the Blind in Ludhiana on Monday.

With the Rajasthan government recently honouring para-athletes with cash awards at the State Paralympics held in Udaipur, Jasvant picked up his javelin, with the hope of attracting financial support from the Rajasthan government.

Hailing from Hanumangarh in Rajasthan, the 28-year-old old Jasvant had not trained for five years before he decided to participate in the National Games for the Blind.

With a firm resolution to support his family using his abilities as an athlete, Jasvant went on to clinch gold in the javelin throw event -- men’s B1 category (100 percent visually impaired) -- touching a distance of 21.98 metres.

“Earlier, there was no support from the state government. Despite earning dozens of medals at national and state-level competitions, there was neither a provision of cash awards nor jobs. But last month, Rajasthan government honoured para-athletes with cash prizes worth lakhs at the State Paralympics in Udaipur. They also announced jobs for the athletes. Therefore, I decided to start my sports career again,” Jasvant said, brimming with joy after his win.

Jasvant, who pursues a masters degree in arts at Prithviraj Chauhan College, Ajmer, said if the government continued to support him, he could realise his dream of representing India in the international arena.

“If not, I will have no option but to leave the games, and focus on becoming a teacher to help out my brother, who is struggling to meet the financial needs of our family.”

Inspired by seniors

It was way back in the early 2000s when Jasvant got the inspiration to try athletics from Kulwinder Singh, a senior at his school.

“I was a tiny tot attending Class 1 at Shri Jagdamba Andh Vidhyalaya, Sri Ganganagar, where Kulwinder Singh, a few years my senior, who was already an athlete in B2 category (ability to see zero to 3 metres) motivated me to train and compete,” Jasvant recalled.

“Kulwinder would hold my hand and run along to help me train for races. At the age of 13, I bagged my first gold and silver in the 100 metres race and the 50 metre walk at the state-level athletics meet for the blind held at Chittorgarh (2002),” he said. “I later got to train under coach Narayan Singh Bist at the school, and picked up the art of throwing the javelin. I won my first medal in javelin, which was a silver, at the national games in 2003.”

“I went on to win around 10 medals at the national level, and over a dozen at state-level games till 2012, before my father died, forcing me to stop playing to avoid additional financial burden on my family,” he shared, hoping never to be stopped by monetary constraints again.

First Published: Jan 16, 2018 16:26 IST