Government apathy affects growth of world number 1 para swimmer from Bihar
31-year-old Mohammad Shams Aalam Shaikh from Bihar is a para-swimmer who has brought many laurels to India. Nothing can break the spirits of this talented youngster, not even his disability.
According to World Para Swimming rankings, Shams has reached the number one position in 100 metres backstroke from both Asia and even the world! He has reached in the first position for other swimming styles as well. That too, at an international level.
He recently became numero uno in the World Para Swimming Championship World Series that was held at Sheffield in United Kingdom. Now, Shams is now all set to participate in the Asian Para Games.
However, this young para swimmer says that the central and state governments are apathetic towards para athletes. Even though he has been selected for the Bihar Rajya Khilari Kalyan Kosh scheme, Shams has not received any benefits from the state government till date.
Shams funded his trip to United Kingdom from his own pocket. The state administration had promised him a refund, but Shams has not even received that.
Shams points out that while attending his regular swimming classes, coaches or experts often turn their heads away from para swimmers. If they receive some recognition, then they are noticed. Most of the times, people under estimate skills and talents of para athletes.
Shams assert that it is high time that para athletes are also noticed and provided equal opportunities to showcase their talents along with other athletes. For this, the central and state governments must help and fund them.
Mohammad Shams had a spinal cord injury in 2010 that left him paraplegic. He currently stays in Mumbai with his sister and her family.