BANGALORE: Sharath M Gayakwad, a paralympic swimmer from Bangalore, made history by winning six medals in the Asian Paralympics held at Incheon.
It has been a memorable year for the athlete. Apart from the success at Incheon, Sharath won the silver medal in 200 metre individual medley, bronze in 100 metre butterfly, bronze in 100 metre breaststroke, bronze in men’s 100 backstroke and another bronze in the 50 metre freestyle. His sixth medal was also a bronze in the 4 x 100 medley relay.
Sharath has over 30 international and 40 national medals to his credit. He won a bronze at the 2010 Asian Para Games and he was the first Indian swimmer to qualify for the Paralympics. He took part in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Sharath also holds the Asian record in 50 metre butterfly and 50 metre breaststroke events.
Born in Bangalore in 1991, Sharath had a deformed left hand. He attended the Little Flower Public School and started taking swimming classes at the age of nine. He later joined Sri Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain College, where he was motivated to participate in athletic events for the disabled.
Sharath has represented India at various national and international swimming events and has won two gold, four silver and a bronze medal at the IWAS World Games, 2009. In 2010 at Beijing, he bagged a bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, China.That gave him a berth for the Paralympics in London in 2012. Sharath thus became the first Indian swimmer to achieve the qualifying time (1:20:90 minutes) for the London event.
Since 2011, Sharath has been supported by GoSports Foundation which sent him abroad for training prior to the London Paralympics in 2012.
“I’m extremely happy about my performance in 2014. For six months, I trained hard for this competition, and it feels great that our hard work paid off,” said Sharath.
“I would like to thank my parents for their constant support, my coach John (Christopher) sir for years of guidance and encouragement, GoSports Foundation for their support, and all others who have helped me so far, including Speedo, and my fellow swimmers at the pool,” said Sharath.
“Sharath has performed exceptionally well. I’m proud of his performance, more so because he has overcome a serious shoulder injury to achieve these results,” said coach Christopher.