Using setback as a stepping stone

Of grit and determination: Paralympics gave me new life: Gurang


NEW LIFE: Nir Bahadur Gurang is one of the many differently abled athletes determined to make light of their handicap.    DH PHOTO

“The accident happened during my posting at Pathankot,” the 51-year-old Gurang said on Wednesday. “The incident left me with a damaged spinal cord, resulting in lower-limb paralysis. Initially, it was very difficult. After leading much of my life as a normal human being -- I was 25 when the accident happened -- I felt shattered. But in 1991, I heard about sporting events for the physically challenged and decided to start a new chapter in my life.”

An ambition-drive Gurang set his early sights on athletics and earned his first international ticket to the South East Pacific Games (SEPG) at Bangkok in 1999 where he finished with a bronze in shot put. Three years later, the Maharashtrian raised his level a few notches, clinching silver in the next edition of the SEPG in shot put, discus and javelin. Brimming with confidence, Gurang finally threw the discus to a gold-medal winning distance at the SEPG in Kuala Lumpur, 2006.  “I sincerely feel the accident was luck by chance. Had I been normal, I would not have dreamt of travelling to so many countries and representing India, let alone winning medals. It definitely has been the turning point of my life and I need to thank the Paralympic Committee of India for giving me the opportunities,” said Gurang, who also finished sixth in the discus throw event at the 2004 Paralympic Ga-mes. Gurang -- who has switched to table tennis -- has tasted international success but there are many more phy-sically challenged athletes determined to make a mark, as evidenced by the huge numbers that turned up at the National paralympic table tennis championship which concluded here on Wednesday.

The Nationals serve as trials to pick the India team for the Asia and Ocenia meet and the International Wheelchair and Amputee Sport Games (IW-AS). “My sole focus is to get selected for the Asia and Oceania and IWAS,” said Sonal Manubai Patel, confined to a wheelchair after being afflicted by polio as a six-year-old in 1987. “I am yet make a mark internationally. After tasting national success last year, I am totally charged up.” The body might be a little weak, but there is no disputing the spirit of these admirable athletes.

DH News Service

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