Sharath proves a point with Asiad medal haul

Braving odds

Sharath proves a point with Asiad medal haul

The year 2014 will stay in Sharath Gayakwad’s memory for some time to come. 

From missing a medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games by a whisker, to going on to clinch six medals at the Incheon Para Asian Games, the Bangalore-based para swimmer’s season has been nothing less than a fairy tale. 

“This year has been very fruitful for me. From coming close to a podium finish at Glasgow to six medals at Incheon — it’s been a satisfying one for me,” says the Bangalore-based para swimmer.

Though he might not have a gold to show for from the South Korean city, the 23-year-old did a commendable job as he notched up a silver in the 200M individual medley besides bronze medals in the 100M butterfly, 100M breaststroke, 100M backstroke, 50M freestyle and 4x100M medley relay.

Describing his time at Incheon, Sharath says, “I had some tough competition at the Asiad. That’s something I enjoyed. Competing along with some of the best athletes is something that I have always cherished.”

Hailing from a modest financial background, Sharath chose to take the less travelled root in Indian sport as the Jain University student followed his passion over other priorities in life. “During my early days, swimming was a fun activity.

 I loved to stay in water and spend time swimming. But, as time progressed, I got better in my skills and under the able guidance of my trainers I decided to take swimming at a professional level,” he says.

With a deformed left hand, Gayakwad today competes among the para athletes, a journey he has enjoyed throughly. “During my childhood, I thought it (being disabled) would be a disadvantage to me. But, later I realised that there is no hurdle in life which can’t be overcome if one has the will and determination to do it.

For me, it is the goal that drives me forward to perform well,” says Gayakwad whose six-medal haul at the Asiad also helped him become the first para athlete to achieve this feet.

 Though the Indian perception towards games other than cricket is changing slowly but steadily, swimming is still not yet a career option. But Sharath, who represented India at the 2012 London Paralympics, believes the nation is not far from the day it will see a star emerge in swimming. 

Back home, the Indian international will be out of action for a while as he prepares himself for the 2015 Para Swimming World Championships, which will see him travel back to the Scottish city of Glasgow.

“I am taking a break now and will be out of the pool till early next year. I will be resuming my training by February as I will be preparing for the World Championships later in the year,” he adds.

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