CHENNAI: Setting a precedent, Amit Saroha, a three-time Paralympian and multiple-time World Para-Athletics Championship and Para Asian Games medallist, presented a cheque of Rs 25 lakh each to his escort Devender and coach Devender Saroha on Saturday.
A thanksgiving function was organised in a hotel in Sonepat to recognise the services of the duo apart from others, who played a key role in Amit's rise as one of the greatest para-athletes of the country following an accident back in 2007 that confined him to the wheelchair for the rest of his life.
The list of honoured people also included chief coach Wazir (SAI), Lalita Sharma (regional director, SAI Sonepat), Gursharan Singh (secretary-general Paralympic Committee of India), physio Ankur, Paralympians Dharambir Nain and Rinku Hooda.
Amit was a hockey player representing Haryana in nationals but the road accident resulted in a severe spinal cord injury rendering him a quadriplegic. "It all started from there as the duo started spending most of their time with me following the accident. They were not athletes but started learning the nuances of the games I started playing as a para-athlete. Devender Saroha even did a Level 2 course recognised by the International Paralympic Committee so that he can be my coach. They have been my shadow ever since. They are next to my mother in my life and I am thankful that I am able to recognise their services today," Amit told this daily.
Since the 2010 Commonwealth Games (CWG), Amit competed in three Para-Asian Games, winning multiple medals in club and discus throw events, won silver in the World Championships in 2015 and 2017 and is the country's second para-athlete to compete in three Paralympic Games (2012 London, 2016 Rio, 2020 Tokyo).
"I have been awarded cash prizes for winning laurels for the country and I strongly believe all these people, whom I honoured today, played a vital role in helping me win these medals. And the association doesn't end here as we will start preparations for the Para Asian Games scheduled next year before gearing up for Paralympic glory," Amit signed off.