CHENNAI: A blast in their ice-cream factory in 2013 changed everything for the Sahu household in Alwar, Rajasthan.
Sunil Kumar Sahu, a 15-year-old then, damaged both his hands and right leg in the blast. Unable to bear the tragedy, his father Rajesh suffered a heart attack and passed away within a year. Rajesh's untimely demise meant mother Prem Devi became the sole bread earner of the family also comprising younger son Anil.
"The factory had gone defunct and we had to sell the machines to make ends meet initially. My mother started working as domestic help thereafter. That blast took away all our happiness. I want to bring our lives back on track and hopefully, I (will) manage to do that by excelling in para-sports," Sunil, who won 100m gold in the T38 class at the 20th edition of the National Para Athletics Championship in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday, told The New Indian Express.
Sunil was always into running as he wanted to join the Indian Army. That love for running gave him a new lease of life once he started to get back on his feet two years after the accident.
"I started training in Kota and competed in the state-level meet in 2019 but couldn't win medals. I missed the 2020 event due to an injury. This year I succeeded in the state meet and qualified for my first nationals," he recounted.
However, ahead of the event, Sunil lost his grandmother Gulab.
"I immersed her mortal remains in the Ganga only 10 days ago. As per ritual, I have to be there in prayer organised on the eleventh day. It's tomorrow (Wednesday) in Alwar but I have an event lined up on the same day. I will now compete in 400m on Wednesday and leave for Alwar on Thursday as the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) is arranging flight tickets for me," added Sunil.
Deepa Malik, president of the PCI, termed Sunil a find.
"This meet is basically a platform to scout. Sunil has cleared the MQS (minimum qualification score) in 100m for the Para-Asian Games. Now he needs proper grooming and classification during the World Para-Athletics Grand Prix series to make it to Para-Asiad. Obviously, he wanted to be there with his family for the prayer but another medal in 400m can lift his confidence to a great extent. We will ensure that he reaches home as soon as the event gets over," she said.
Sunil agrees with Malik as he believes the medals could be a pathway for international success and also help him bail out his family from all miseries.