'I have always tried to give my best'

Overcoming difficulties

'I have always tried to give my best'

Sharath M Gayakwad, India’s first Paralympics swimmer, took to the sport when he was barely 13 years old.

He did exceptionally well and before he reached his mid-twenties, he had already made the country proud by winning over 30 international, 40 national and six medals in the 2014 Asian Para Games.

Sharath says that his achievement is a dream come true.

“It’s the dream of every sportsman to emerge a champion in the Olympics and Paralympics. Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and all the national championships were the beginning of my journey. I’m proud of my achievements and am grateful to my coach, parents and sponsors who have supported me throughout my journey,” he says.

He adds, “I have always tried to give my best and live up to their expectations.”

The disability has never hampered Sharath’s progress.

He states, “I come from a very modest family. I had to face a lot of financial constraints but my parents took care of everything and made sure that I got what I wanted. My sponsors provided me with all the swimming equipment and supported me as far as training was concerned.”

Sharath also suffered from several injuries and nursing them took away a large part of his training and practice time and left him a little disappointed.

Sharath hopes to get into coaching soon.

He says, “It all started because of my coach John Christopher. I have learnt a lot from him and also from my other coaches. I have now reached a stage where I know a lot about the sport. I have also coached a few students.”

He is now on a break and will take a year to get back to active sports.

When asked about his take on the differently-abled swimmers, Sharath notes that he sees a lot of potential in them. But he feels that coaching still needs improvement.

“The coaches do not have much knowledge about training differently-abled swimmers. If the training improves, we can see a lot more achievers in the Paralympics.”

Sharath admires Rahul Dravid. “I am impressed with the way he talks about his experiences. He taught me how to maintain the spirit of sportsmanship while working in a team. He would talk about his hardships and how he overcame them. He has been a great source of inspiration for me.”

He sums up saying, “If I hadn’t tried to swim, I wouldn’t have been here. Try before you say no and never give up.”

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