W hen life presents challenges, the tough ones brush them aside and brace for fresher ones. Like for instance, para-athlete Amit Kumar Saroha, winner of gold medals in discus throw at Asian Para Games and the first Indian Quadriplegia Paralympian at the 2012 London Paralympic Games (finished a creditable eighth).
The 28-year-old from Bayanpur started off as a national-level hockey player before he was paralysed in a car accident in 2007, aged only 22. He spent six months in hospital, depressed after doctors said he was quadriplegic with legs fully paralysed and arms paralysed to the extent of 80 per cent.
But meeting wheelchair athlete Jonathan Sigworth changed his life altogether. He urged him to pursue wheelchair rugby and they toured India promoting it. Amit then shifted focus to individual events like discus throw, after meeting his idol Arun Sondhi, another wheelchair athlete.
Success followed with Amit winning medals at the National Games, Asian Para Games and International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports (IWAS) World Games. His achievements are remarkable considering that his F51 category is the highest level of disability among wheelchair athletes. And he now wants to claim gold at the 2014 Korea Games.
After training, Amit likes spending time with family and friends and visiting hill stations, all of which are his support system, along with coach Naval Singh. Amit also finds time to coach other para-athletes and attributed success to a single-minded pursuit of his dream. “If you have a dream and put in the hard work, you can achieve any target no matter how difficult.”
The Arjuna was a fitting appraisal. “For any athlete participating in the Olympics and getting a national award is the ultimate dream. I feel proud to have achieved both so soon,” he signed off.