Rio Paralympics a gamechanging moment for para sports in India – My Take by Arnab Das
In My Take, Arnab Das, Program Lead with GoSports Foundation, talks about the changes in Para Sports in India. GoSports’ Para Champions Programme supports some of India’s best known disabled athletes.
The performance of the Indian Para sportspersons at Rio has brought them strongly into the limelight. There is a lot of support and attention not just from the media and the government, but also from the disabled community, who now see it as an opportunity for fame, money and success.
Even the established athletes are more confident about themselves. Earlier, they were content to just participate. Now they believe they can win.
We are also seeing a change in the government and the Paralympics Committee of India. There is talk of re-starting the TOP scheme – Target Olympic Podium. This was shut down after the Olympics and Para Olympics, but now there is a more support.
There is a lot of promise in Para sports. Look at the recent World Championships in London, where we had many new athletes making their mark. Like 17-year-old Jayanti Behera from Odisha, who was the youngest Para athlete at the event. Jayanti, who from a humble background, suffered burns on the right side of her body after walking into a furnace as a child. GoSports spotted her talent and trained her. There is the shot putter Mohammed Yasin from Punjab, who took part in his first international event and came seventh. These young athletes are showing a lot of promise.
But we still have a long way to go when it comes to identifying talent. In able-bodied sports it is much easier because systems are in place, so spotting talent is easier. But in Para sports there is just one national event so you have to speak to coaches and it takes more time.
What makes the Para athletes so special is their attitude. They are so appreciative because they have got little support in the past. They are also very comfortable to work with. We are trying to get international coaches to India to train them. Like we have John Gloster who trained the Indian cricket team for 10 years and is now working with Para athletes to help improve their technique.
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