BHUBANESHWAR: Odisha's Pankaj Bhue, who had represented the Indian blind team in the 2012 and 2018 World Cups, continued his good run on the athletic track as he won 100m bronze in T13 class of the National Para Athletics Championship with the timing of 12.17 seconds at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday.
Son of a tractor driver from Bargarh district, Pankaj was born with visual impairment in both eyes (partial vision loss in one and totally blind in another). He got selected for the state cricket team for visually challenged players in 2006 and made his international debut in 2011.
"During one of two World Cups I played, I sustained a knee injury. I wasn't able to run for more than a year due to that injury. At that point in time, I thought it was the end of my sporting career. My elder brother, who is working in the Odisha Police Department, advised me to start competing in para-athletics events to overcome my fear of running", said Pankaj.
The move helped as he not only regained his confidence but also won medals in the National Para Athletics Championship. "I regained my confidence because of running, so I decided to start competing in sprints and long jump events in para-athletics meets. I had won three gold medals in my first appearance in the 2016 National Para Athletics Championship. My dream is to book a place in the national para-athletics team and win a medal for my country," added Pankaj.
He, however, rued lack of support from his employer, the Department of Post, and urged it to support him by allowing him to train. "Kalinga Stadium has the best facilities but authorities at my office do not provide me time to train. If I can small support from them, I will work hard and give my best to win medals for the state and country," signed off Pankaj.