BENGALURU : Hundred para athletes who have the potential to represent India at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics are being trained by the Aditya Mehta Foundation (AMF) in association with Border Security Force (BSF), which conducted its 3rd Divyang National sports training camp at STC, BSF Bengaluru. The preliminary training concluded on Friday. In the training programme, Mission 100, more than 150 participants took part from across India. Twelve to fifteen of them were from Bengaluru. After the team monitors their performance records, about 40 will be shortlisted for professional training in ten sports. "They'll have to participate in different tournaments such as Asian Games and World Championship to get maximum points in order to get selected for Tokyo 2020 Paralympics," says Aditya Mehta.
He adds that only five sports are recognised in India and his team is in talks with the central government. In 2016 Paralympics, 19 differently-abled from India participated and won 4 medals. "Whereas, more than 200 abled bodied contingents participated in Olympics and won two medals. You can see the ratio then. We are getting help from forces and state governments. We need more support from central government now," he adds.
Harinder Singh, an ex-constable with BSF, is volunteering with the cycling coach in the training programme. He says, "What's unique about this programme is that the trainers are also differently-abled. Hence, it helps participants believe that they would understand their difficulties. It also motivates them to participate seeing that if trainers could do it, so can they." Harinder is a para cyclist and has won bronze medals in the Asian Championship in 2017 and Asian Road and Paracycling Championships this year.
"A year after I joined BSF, I lost my right leg in a blast in Jammu and Kashmir in 2012. I then worked as an officer with BSF. In 2016, I met Aditya and I tried cycling for the first time. I got selected for the professional training programme after which I went on to participate in various competitions. I also cycled across the country to create awareness and raise funds for para sports," he adds.
Harinder says, "If more sports are recognised, we can win more medals." Aditya adds, "We will reach our goal by 2020. If not, we won't give up. By 2024, I am sure we can be the strongest country." The foundation has been supporting para athletes in different sports. "We are adopting differently-abled children from schools so that we can counsel and train them in multiple sports," says Aditya.