Para sportsman Manoj Kumar struggles to make ends meet due to government apathy
28-year-old Manoj Kumar's tryst with sports began when he was rather young as he was passionate about wheelchair racing. His efforts bore fruit when he won the 100 and 200 metres wheelchair racing event at the 4th International Para Athletics Championship in Morocco. Winning laurels for India was a heady feeling.
Today, Manoj, who is from Theni, Tamil Nadu, is struggling to make ends meet. He lost his job recently and his parents are dependent on him as well. At present, he lives in Coimbatore, where Sahai Trust, an NGO that empowers people with spinal cord injuries, is helping him. Manoj is being trained in wheelchair racing by Palanisami, who is also a physiotherapist. Apart from the donations that he has been receiving from friends and supporters, Manoj receives Rs 1,000 as disability pension from the state government. But he says this is not enough to pursue his love for sports.
Unless I get more funds, I cannot undergo regular practice sessions. My friend has been kind enough to me and allowed me to stay in his building. So I do not have to pay for accommodation. Sahai trust has also been kind to provide me free training and physiotherapy sessions. But I have to spend money on petrol and other expenses. All this does not come easy. I undergo practice daily. I hope to represent India in the Para Olympics some day and break records for my country. - Manoj Kumar, Wheelchair racer
Manoj feels it is high time that the government steps in to provide more support to para sportsmen. Currently, due to lack of funds or government support, Kumar is unable to grow. He points out that there are many talented para sportsmen out there who deserve good training and coaching. But lack of funds and support are the biggest road blocks to their success.
"Kumar wants to participate in para Olympics and that is his ultimate dream. He is a very hard-working person who has beaten many obstacles in his path. He travels a long way everyday to come for training sessions and does not miss any of it. He has participated in many district level matches through which he got selected for nationals, says Palanisami.
With more support from kind souls around him, Kumar hopes to make it big someday. This youngster is aiming for nothing lesser than the stars.