Girisha gets hero's welcome at home
Chief Minister Shettar presents Rs 20 lakh to silver-winner, promises him senior coach’s job
Girisha Hosanagara Nagarajegowda, India’s lone medal-winner at the London Paralympics, returned home to a rousing but chaotic reception as he basked in his newly attained status on Wednesday.
More than thousand supporters were at the Bangalore International Airport to welcome Girisha, who won the silver medal in the F 42 high jump event with a leap of 1.74 metres, as he touched down in the afternoon.
“It is a huge surprise to see so many people here, I never expected this,” said the 24-year-old who hail from Hosanagara in Arkalgud taluk of Hassan district. “Thanks to all of you. This medal belongs to the people of Karnataka,” an overwhelmed Girisha said.
Hours earlier, athletes and coaches from the Department of Youth Services and Sports, Paralympic Committee of India officials and Janata Dal (S) members had thronged the airport along with Girisha’s family members and relatives, who had driven from Hassan to receive him.
“The whole of Hassan is celebrating his victory. Our parents back home and the people there are eagerly awaiting his arrival,” said Satisha, the younger brother of Girisha.
As soon as Girisha emerged out of the arrival zone along with PCI Joint Secretary Satyanarayana -- whose role as Girisha’s coach has come under focus -- they were mobbed by the huge crowd, leaving airport security personnel and the policemen clueless. The waiting lensmen and media personnel were the worst sufferers as the security persons somehow managed to get Girisha into a government car. PCI had planned an open jeep-ride from BIA but it was cancelled.
Two hours later, Girisha was honoured by the State government at the Youth Centre where he was presented the traditional Mysore peta and a shawl. A clutch of specially abled athletes took turns to garland him and also took snaps with the star of the moment.
The State Sports Minister Appachu Ranjan then officially announced Rs 20 lakh for the athlete. “I wasn’t hoping to win a medal. With all your blessings, I was able to win a medal. I believe this medal would inspire all the specially abled athletes,” said Girisha, who was born with a disability in the left leg. “I am now keen to reach my home and see my parents,” he added.
Later, he was presented the cheque for Rs 20 lakh by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar at his official residence. “We have identified Senior Coach’s post for Girisha,” revealed Shettar.
Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken had also offered Girisha coach’s job at the Sports Authority of India.
The chief minister also assured Rs one lakh each to three support staff of Girisha – Satyanarayana, KN Govind and Vishwanath.
Girisha said his main focus is now to win the gold at next year’s IPC Athletics World Championships from July 20-29 in Paris. “I have attained my dream of winning a medal at the Paralympics. Now my target is to win gold at the World meet,” said Girisha.