Small man stands tall in para sports

Ravi never gave up on his unwavering enthusiasm for sports and even sold his family’s half-acre farm to fund his participation in international events.
Rongali Ravi. (Photo | Express)
Rongali Ravi. (Photo | Express)

VIJAYAWADA: In a world where men of short stature are left out, Rongali Ravi defied all odds and clinched several national and international medals, rising to triumph in the world of para-sports. Born in Chirikivanipalem in Visakhapatnam, this 28-year-old’s indomitable spirit and passion for sports have propelled him to become an inspiration for many.

At 125 cm in height, Ravi has been tackling many obstacles since his childhood. Despite growing up in a family of agricultural labourers, Ravi has been demonstrating an unwavering enthusiasm for sports.

Pushing all the comments and harassment behind and wading through all the hardships, Ravi has found his true calling in para-sports in 2014, since then, there has been no looking back for the determined young man.

In 2015, Ravi participated in the National Para-Badminton Championships in Bangalore and showcased his potential by securing a silver medal in doubles and a bronze medal in singles. The following year, he won bronze medals in both singles and doubles events at the national para-badminton competition in Faridabad, Haryana.

However, in 2018, Ravi’s life took a significant turn after he clinched a gold medal in the shot put at the National Games. Encouraged by his elders, he made a conscious decision to shift his focus to athletics entirely. Then he won gold in the Javelin throw and silver in the Shot put at the 3rd World Para Athletics Championship in Bangalore in 2021.

Ravi’s determination to represent India at international tournaments remained unyielding due to a lack of sponsors. Nevertheless, he never gave up on his dreams and even sold his family’s half-acre farm to fund his participation in international events.

Ravi’s father, Demudu Babu, said “Even though our son was born with dwarfism, we raised him without ever seeing it as a defect. Ravi is working hard to fulfil his dreams despite our poverty. We cannot bear to see him disheartened due to lack of cooperation from authorities of SAAP and others so we are doing everything we can to support him.”

Ravi’s hard work and dedication caught the attention of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), which supported him in his training under the guidance of esteemed athletics coach Rahul Balakrishna and monitored by Indian Para Athletics Chairman Satyanarayana.

In 2022, Ravi clinched two international silver medals in the shot put and javelin throw representing India in Portugal. Later, Ravi qualified for the Asian Games after excelling in the World Championship held in Paris in 2023 by securing fourth place.

Speaking to TNIE about his journey Ravi said, “Apart from participating in the Asian Games and proving my strength and capabilities, my aim is to make India proud with my success in the 2024 Olympics. I am grateful for the support both financially and emotionally I have received from the Para Sports Association of Andhra Pradesh (PSAAP), SAI, Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) and coaches.”

Ravi’s unwavering determination inspires aspiring athletes nationwide as he continues training under Diwakara Thimme Gowda, guided by Rahul Balakrishna and under the supervision of PSAAP president Gonuguntla Koteswar Rao and PSAAP State Secretary Velicharla Ramaswamy.

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