Mumbai: A swimmer from Karnataka, Sharath Gayakwad, is the first Indian swimmer to qualify for the Paralympics. Born with a deformed hand, Sharath has managed to swim against all odds to get there. "I want to be an Olympic champion and break a world record," the Paraswimmer said.
20-year-old Sharath Gayakwad was born with a hand deformity. But he has been swimming against all odds to become the first Indian swimmer to qualify for the Paralympics. With the help of his coach John Christopher, the ace swimmer has won 30 international and 40 national medals.
Sharath says his strength came from being treated equally. "I have never been treated differently, no one has shown pity on me," he said.
But it wasn't all smooth gliding. Sharath suffered a shoulder injury and nearly quit the sport. He swung back into action, but then funding became difficult particularly after the Paralympics Committee of India was derecognised.
For Sharath and other paraswimmers, getting together the finances to participate in the sport competitively hasn't always been an easy task.
But Sharath managed to pull through after he won a scholarship funded by a non-profit organisation.
"Go Sports has been supporting me since the last 1.5 years. They've taught me dieting, managing myself, getting my schedule right," Sharath said.
As Sharath gears up for the Olympics, he takes inspiration from his favourite sportspersons - swimmer Ian Thorpe and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.
Sharath said, "There is a lot of pressure for the Olympics but whether I win or not, I'm concentrating on giving a good performance.
Here's wishing Sharath all the best.