State lad wins Paralympics silver

Son of poor farmer jumps to glory

State lad wins Paralympics silver

With one decisive leap, high jumper H N Girisha overnight shot an obscure village in Southern Karnataka – Hosanagara – into the conciousness of whole of India

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The 24-year-old from Karnataka made history of sorts by winning India’s first medal – a silver – at the ongoing Paralympic Games in the Men’s High Jump F42 event in London on Monday.

Girisha, who has an impairment in his left leg, cleared a height of 1.74M using scissors technique to finish second in front of an 80,000 capacity crowd on Monday night to send the small Indian contingent into raptures.

With a little bit luck though, Girisha could have finished with gold which went to Iliesa Delana of Fiji.

All three – Delana, Girisha and bronze medalist Kukasz Mamczarz of Poland – cleared 1.74M but the Fiji athlete claimed the gold on the basis of taking fewer jumps.

“I feel on top of the world,” Girisha told Deccan Herald from London. “It’s a bit disappointing that I didn’t win the gold, but a silver is still very satisfying. There was no let-up in my intensity and with a little bit of good fortune, I could have finished on top.”

Hailing from a poor agricultural family in Hassan district, where his father Nagaraje Gowda takes care of an acre of land, it hasn’t been a smooth journey for this graduate.

“I used to wonder what I am  doing with this sport. It was taking me nowhere, and in 2010, I gave it up all and took up a part-time job,” recalled Girisha.

“In the last six months or so, I was encouraged by the Karnataka Athletic Association (KAA) to comeback and resume my training. I returned reluctantly, but when I spoke to my parents today, the happiness and the pride in their voice convinced me that it was worth the risk I took,” he noted, proudly adding that he is the first from the State to win an individual medal – whether in Olympics or Paralympics.

“This is a great moment for all of us,” said high jump coach and KAA Secretary Satyanarayana, who is part of the Indian team in London. “It was the first time he was participating in such a big event and in front of such a huge crowd.

Credit to him for holding his nerve and winning the medal.” Dedicating his medal to India’s specially abled community, Girisha hoped the Karnataka government, too, will give him the same honour as Haryana or Andhra Pradesh who showered financial rewards on their athletes who won medals at the  London Olympics. 

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