Prasanta Karmakar, the only Indian to make a splash in Para-swimming, is all set to leave the pool for pedals and will be compete in the Hero Asian Cycling Championship in the national capital on March 5.
The loss of swimming could be the gain for cycling as there is no age bar for para-cycling, unlike in swimming where athletes beyond 33 cannot compete in international events. Keen to make an impact, he has been practising at the Indira Gandhi Velodrome. “I have been putting in at least 2 to 3 hours every day in the run up to this event and am enjoying the run completely,” said the Haryana-based athlete.
Karmakar shot to fame when he created history by becoming the first Indian Para-athlete to win a medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG) and followed it up with silver and bronze medals in the Para Asian Games in Guangzhou (China) in 2010. The Commonwealth Games bronze-medalist’s never-say-die attitude has always helped him go extra mile even after losing a part of his right hand in a road accident when he was only seven. And he doesn’t perceive disability as a hindrance to sporting glory. “I never shy away from a challenge. Although it’s the first time I am participating in a Para-cycling event in my life, I am confident of making an impact in the sport. Even swimming happened by chance in my life. I didn’t know then that I would do the country proud one day. Why should I not be optimistic about my chances in cycling?’’ he said.
The Para-cycling event will be a prelude to the main championships from March 7 to 17 at the IG Sports Complex and Buddha International Circuit F1 track. Karmakar, who was bestowed with the Arjuna award for 2010 in the disabled category, will be a top draw during the one-day event.