There are certain people amidst us, who are unfortunate to be born with a physical challenge, but there are a few among them who fight back their handicap armed with nothing but raw courage. Srinivas BV is one among those few. Affected with polio from birth, Srinivas BV never got to use his legs. But he did not let this deter him as he went on to achieve one medal after another in state, national and even international level events in athletics. While the thought of a physical challenge never scared him, unfortunately, the spectre of financial insecurity has finally managed to convince him into retiring from active athletics.
“I started working on my body early on in my life; upper body strength is very necessary when your legs do not work. My first international tournament was the Paralympics in 2004 in Belgium where I won a gold medal in Shotput and Discus throw,” Srinivas says while fondly remembering the assistance that Sudha Murthy of Infosys had provided him in order to enable him to train for the Paralympics. Srinivas has to his credit, more than 10 Gold Medals including three at the Belgian Paralympics in 2004 and with a total bag of 20 medals for various events including shotput, discus throw and more recently bodybuilding. For the past 9 years, Srinivas turned to body building as a career choice and has spent 7 years coaching employees of Infosys as a consultant.
He has won 8 State Bodybuilding Championships based on his own efforts and a little help from his friends. “Training is a big financial undertaking. Along with my diet supplements, the cost of equipment and food, the daily cost of maintenance comes to around Rs 500-600 per day. This is too big an amount for me to afford now,” Srinivas rued. After having supported himself for nine years, this sportsman is all ready to retire from active sports since he cannot pay for the regime anymore. Srinivas is much loved by his friends as well as those who train under him.
This is the source of his support and inspiration which has kept him going despite all the odds which were stacked against him. Despite his achievements, Srinivas was never noticed by the government or any sports federation or private company who could support his desire to continue.
“I have never been offered any sort of assistance by the government besides the regular allowances they give when you represent your country or state. This covers the stay and food for the duration of the event, however the preparation part of it has been borne by me all these years,” Srinivas added.
With a wife and a mother to take care of since his father passed away recently, the strain is starting to show now.
Does he want to continue? Yes, however it seems to be an impossible task with the rising costs of maintaining such levels of fitness. Without intervention by the government or other people interested in promoting sports, a bright and much appreciated career stands to end prematurely.