With the Tokyo Paralympics postponed to next year, India high jumper Sharad Kumar will have to push the restart button and relaunch his efforts to achieve what he terms as ‘ultimate dream’ of winning a medal at the quadrennial event. Also Read - Offensive Tokyo Olympics Parody Logo Pulled From Website After Controversy
He has been preparing meticulously for the past three years in Ukraine for the Tokyo Games where he hoped to add another medal to his illustrious career which has seen him twice becoming Asian Para Games high jump champion apart from winning a silver at the world stage as well. Also Read - IOC Asks International Federations to Finalise Dates of Tokyo Games Qualifiers
“I have done meticulous planning and hard training in last three years with the sole aim of a medal in Paralympics. Now I am not doing any training,” Kumar told PTI. “…there will be no competition this year and so I have to start from the scratch next year.” Also Read - It's Just a Matter of Time Before India Wins More Individual Olympic Gold Medals: Abhinav Bindra
At the age of two, Kumar’s left leg was paralysed being administered a spurious polio medicine during a local eradication drive. He competes in the T42/63 category which is for athletes who have lower limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power and impaired range of movement.
He is currently based in Kharkiv and training under Nikitan Yevhen who was earlier in India as a Sports Authority of India (SAI) coach.
“Naturally I am disappointed but what can I do. The world is in crisis now. Sports is secondary at present. Athletes are human beings also and I am not thinking about sports now but about the misery the world is facing,” the 28-year-old said.
He has twice won a gold medal at the Asian Para Games in 2014 and 2018 and last year clinched silver at the IPC World Para-Athletics Championships.
“I will not say I am desperate to go back home, because I have become used to here as I have been training for last three years. But the postponement of Paralympics has been a big disappointment,” he said.
Winning medal at the Paralympics, which will now be held in July-August next year, continues to be his dream.
“I have won back-to-back gold medals in the last two Asian Para Games, won a medal each (both silver) in IPC World Para-Athletics Championships. I have been a world number one. The only thing I have not won is a Paralympics medal. That is my ultimate dream,” he said.
Making his contribution towards the fight against coronavirus pandemic, Kumar donated Rs 1 lakh to the Cares Fund.
However, Kumar is spending money from his own pocket to pay for his accommodation in Ukraine.
“The support from TOPS and GoSports is not enough. I have to spend from my pocket for the accommodation here which is not cheap,” he said.
He also invests in stock markets to add to his income, something which he has been doing for the past 11 years.
“I am following stock exchanges on the internet. I started investing in stock market shares since I was a 17-year-old. So, I surf internet and collect information on stocks and shares. We athletes need extra income. I am a SAI coach but any additional income is welcome. The share markets are going down these days due to this coronavirus and it is good for investors in stock market if you put money intelligently.” he said.