Shams Alam Sheikh qualifies for Asian Para Games 2018, sets national record
With a rich haul of four gold medals, para swimmer Mohammed Shams Alam Sheikh has qualified for the Asian Para Games 2018 in style! At the Indian Para Open Swimming Championship held recently in Bengaluru, Sheikh won four gold medals in the S5 category, with two national records.
Among the events he took part in were the 200 meters freestyle, 200 metres individual medley, 50 metres butterfly, and 100 metres breast stroke.
This is a truly special moment for Sheikh, who has been struggling for sponsorships and support. He approached various foundations and the Maharashtra government for funds and better coaching facilities, but was disappointed with the response.
Like him, many para-swimmers are struggling in Maharashtra, where there is no culture of helping disabled people. This is different from states like Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, and Delhi, which have sponsorships available.
Speaking to Newz Hook, Sheikh gave credit to the support he has received from his family for getting this far.
I am very focused on my goal and that is why I was able to qualify for the Asian Para Games 2018. I also have a lot of family support and am blessed with strong willpower, so I don't get discouraged or distracted easily - Mohammed Shams Alam Sheikh, Para Swimmer
30-year-old Sheikh, a mechanical engineer by profession and a also a black belt karate player, became paraplegic after he was diagnosed with a spinal tumour and underwent many operations.
He hopes that achievements like these will help change attitudes of society towards the disabled people. "I feel very isolated and discriminated against when it comes to facilities like practice and coaching. People have to understand that we work as hard as the able bodied athletes. Even Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore has said that equal opportunities should be given to all sportspersons, disabled or not. We work as hard to make India proud and people have to see that."
Powerful words? Is India listening?