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Pune warriors: From the Line of Control to the finishing line

Meet these soldiers of Indian Army who got trained at the Army Sports Institute and Para Node at BEG & Centre, Pune who won at Asian Para Games 2018

pune Updated: Dec 28, 2018 18:01 IST
Shivani Sadanand Singh
Shivani Sadanand Singh
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,line of control,finishing line
Havaldar Aneesh Kumar (HT PHOTO)

The Indian Army declared 2018 as the year of the disabled soldier (in the line of duty) and here are those soldiers who turned their disability into ability. India won 72 medals at the Asian Para Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in October 2018. Among the medallists were Subedar Anandan Gunasekaran and Havaldar Aneesh Kumar, who got treated at the Artificial Limb Centre in Pune and trained at the Army Sports Institute and Para Node at BEG & Centre.

Havaldar Aneesh Kumar

Havaldar Aneesh Kumar was not an athelete before and while on a long-range patrol in J&K, he got stuck in the snow and his foot had to be amputated due to frostbite in 2012. He was shifted to the ALC in Pune and in 2015, Col Gaurav Dutta, who is the incharge of the Para Sports Node, introduced Kumar to a life-changing dream. “My mentor told me what para atheletes are and then, motivated to make a difference, I started training in 2015. In 2017, in Jaipur I got my first silver medal in discuss throw and then, medals followed at the national games, and Asian games.

On being asked as to why he chose these sports, he said, “I didn’t know anything about the sports, my mentor told me that my body structure is favourable for such games, hence, I participated and trained hard at ASI. For running, you need toe action and I didn’t have it, but my throw was good, so I chose shot put and discus throw.” Talking about his bronze medal at the Asian Para Games, Kumar said, “My unit (southern command composite signal regiment) and my commanding officer, helped me a lot to train for the competition. They also helped me financially.

MEDAL- He won bronze in discus throw in the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, with a throw of 45.41m in F/44 category (lower limb disability).

Subedar Anandan Gunasekaran ( HT PHOTO )

Subedar Anandan Gunasekaran

Anandan was a former athelete who had lost hope after he lost his left foot in a mine blast on June 4, 2008 in Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir. For Subedar Anandan Gunasekaran who had always been a track and field athletics runner and the son of an autorickshaw driver, his left foot amputation 2008 changed his life. “I didn’t even go to my parents six months after the incident as I was let down and I didn’t know what to do with my life. While I was recuperating in the hospital, I read about the famous blade runner Oscar Pistorius. I thought if he can be a sprint runner without both his legs, with one leg I can do wonders,” said Anandan. This decision changed my life, he added.

“My professional training started in 2014. At first, I used to train with a wooden leg in 2012, but later I purchased a blade and practiced continuously. I purchased it in March 2014 and in June 2014, I bagged two medals at the international grand prix (Gold for 200m and silver for 100m),” said Anandan.

This was just the beginning for the Army’s blade runner. He says the Army has supported him throughtout his journey, from training at BEG and ASI to treatment at the artifical limb centre in Khadki. For this para athelete, who got inducted into the army on September 23, 2005, Olympics is the dream.

MEDAL- He bagged a silver medal in 400 metre and a bronze medal in 200 metre in the T44/T62/64 classification at the Asian Para Games

First Published: Dec 28, 2018 18:00 IST