sport

Fighting against all odds

Aditya Mehta Foundation hosts the first ever winter para games training camp

“Sports gave me a fresh lease of life after my accident. It gave me focus and strength to carry on. They helped me to push myself, get out and fight. I hope to reach out to other people and do the same,” says Aditya Mehta when asked the reason behind conducting the first ever winter para games training camp in Asia at Auli, Uttarakhand.

With 80 para athletes from all across India taking part in the camp helmed by the Aditya Mehta Foundation, its participants include visually impaired children from Hyderabad, amputees (including above knee, below knee and both knees), CRPF and ITBP soldiers who were injured in line of duty. Aditya says that the aim is to train enough people so that they have a proper team by next year and the athletes can compete internationally. “Sitting at home and

getting depressed will get us nowhere. I want to reach out to more disabled people so that para athletes can find a platform which allows them to spend their energies on. The ultimate aim is to change a person’s life through sport,” he concedes. Aditya Mehta Foundation is an NGO that supports para-sports in India by training and preparing para athletes to compete in national and international championships.

In four years, the foundation has won more than 80 international and national medals. This year the camp was held from February 4-10 and trained the participants for games like Alpine skiing, biathlon, snowboarding and cross country amongst others.

The aim of this training camp is to have its participants represent our country in the upcoming International Winter Para Games. Ajay Kumar, an18 year old visually impaired para-athlete from Telangana feels excited about training he receives in the winter Para games in his arena of Alpine Skiing. He adds, “I want to participate in national and international winter games and represent the nation. I am thankful for being given this wonderful opportunity to find a new path through para games.” Conducting an event of this scale comes with its fair share of challenges and Aditya reels them off without much ado, “The first one is to get people together. Second, sponsorships for para events are difficult to come by. Thankfully this year, ITBP and Uttarakhand Tourism helped us. But still, getting winter wear and equipment is an expensive affair. Finally, the vagaries of nature are always unexpected. The other day, it snowed in and the participants had to come in a cable car. They did this without a murmur, which really inspired me.”

The foundation also conducted a lot of ancillary events to spread awareness from road shows in Dehradun, an event which had the tourism minister riding along with the para-riding team to awareness camps all over Uttarakhand.

Aditya believes that sports have a unique way of bringing people together and hopes that the government concentrates more on developing para games which he feels would immensely encourage those living with disabilities. He recalls, “When I had my accident, people used to come and sympathise with me. Today I can challenge anyone for a fitness contest and win. Sports give you confidence and I hope to inspire others with my work.”

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