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Funds to buy new wheelchair hindering champion para shooter Mona Agarwal's Paralympic preparation

Mona Agarwal, who suffers from polio and competes in the 10m air rifle (SH1) para shooting category, struck gold at the WSPS Para World Cup in New Delhi in March to secure the country's ninth and last Paralympic quota.
Last Updated : 01 June 2024, 09:50 IST
Last Updated : 01 June 2024, 09:50 IST

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New Delhi: Despite her successive gold medals at Para-shooting World Cups, Mona Agarwal faces a stark reality -- her triumphs have not translated into the crucial funds required to procure a wheelchair for the upcoming Paris Paralympic Games.

The 37-year-old, who suffers from polio and competes in the 10m air rifle (SH1) para shooting category, struck gold at the WSPS Para World Cup in New Delhi in March to secure the country's ninth and last Paralympic quota.

The mother of two then went on to grab another gold in the Para World Cup in Changwon, Korea in April, becoming one of the few Indian shooters to secure successive top-podium finishes at the global competition.

However, all her sponsorship funds were exhausted in buying a rifle and competing "at her own cost" in the Changwon World Cup, leaving her with no resources to upgrade her wheelchair, which she believes could take her "to a different level" at the Paralympics.

"I was expecting to get enrolled in the government's Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) following my success in the Delhi Para World Cup in March. I'm hopeful it will happen but don't know the reason why it's been delayed by two months," the shooter from Jaipur told PTI.

"I have written several mails to Sports Authority of India and informed them that I have to do some equipment upgrades for the Paralympics, so I need financial support," she added.

Mona has also excelled in various para sports including shot put, javelin, discus throw and even powerlifting.

"The Rs 15 lakh budget I had got from my sponsor for the current year has been exhausted in buying a rifle and competing in Korea, which was on own cost. I also spent Rs 7 lakh in Korea. I need about Rs 6 lakh to buy a new wheelchair," added Mona.

She is also the founder of the national para volleyball girls' team and whenever time permits travels across India to motivate girls to take up sport.

Mona has been staying away from her family, which includes two school-going children and a bedridden husband, for the last three months, training and residing at the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) at the Karni Singh Shooting Range here.

"I have a wheelchair; it needs to be upgraded to compete at that highest level. Also, I need one back-up for it.

"The wheelchair I have now I use for both training-cum-competition and regular use. The uneven roads inside the Karni Singh Range have also led to wheel alignment issues," she adds.

"During shooting practice and competition, if the alignment of the wheels is not proper then stability becomes a problem, and I can't focus on my shots.

"So, if I can upgrade and train on new equipment for two months before the Paralympics, I can hope to perform much better and also aim for a medal in Paris," she said.

Mona says she has overcome extreme challenges to reach this stage and doesn't want a wheelchair to come in the way of her aspirations.

"I am married with two children. My husband used to play wheelchair basketball. Two years back he also suffered a brain injury. My in-laws (in Jaipur) take care of him while I concentrate on my shooting. A wheelchair shouldn't come in the way of my success, that's my only request."

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Published 01 June 2024, 09:50 IST

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