Mission Paralympics 2016: Help India's para-athletes!
India has several talented para-athletes nursing dreams of international competition, but they are unable to achieve their aspirations due to the high costs involved. Para-athletes in India receive no government funding and do not have an official paralympic organisation under which they can compete.
In April 2015, the International Paralympic Committee officially derecognised the Paralympic Committee of India, making several references to the lack of organisation and utter mismanagement of its members.
The Chief-Executive Officer (CEO) of the International Paralympic Committee Xavier Gonzalez wrote in his letter that the state of affairs in India has been disorganised for a considerable amount of time now, and that such a situation can't bring any positive results for the country. This is the third time that the association has been derecognised.
Prior investigations have shown a lack of drinking water, no sanitation facilities and a host of infrastructural issues that show no signs of abating. Investigations into the matter found Paralympic Council of India (PCI) President Rajesh Tomar charged with corruption and mistreatment of funds. He was sacked, but this also led to the eventual dissolution of the PCI. Following this, the Indian Sports Committee also derecognised the association.
In a welcome move earlier this month, however, the International Paralympic Committee announced it would provide permission for the Indian contingent to participate in International competitions under the IPC flag, so athletes who were already registered would not have to suffer.
However, athletes still sorely lack the kind of funding they require to compete internationally. In view of that, a crowdfunding initiative by Ketto called Mission Paralympics 2016 has been started, which aims to raise funds for four para-athletes. The funds will go towards specialised training for the athletes in order to compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Who are they supporting?
Here are the athletes that Mission Paralympics aims to help:
Paralympian and multiple Asian Games medalist Sharath Gayakwad is perhaps one of India’s best Para-swimmers. Bangalore based Sharath holds a record for most number of medals won by an Indian at an International sports event, at the young age of 24, beating a record set by the Payyoli Express, P.T. Usha.
20-year old Niranjan is a fighter. Born with Spina Bifida, he has undergone as many as sixteen surgeries already. His physical obstacles, however, have never deterred this young swimmer to give swimming his all.
Sakina, from Basirhat, West Bengal is one of India’s premier female powerlifters. She has achieved success at the international level despite coming from a small town and very modest means.
42-year-old Rajinder Rahelu, from Jalandhar, Punjab, is an Arjuna awardee and an Indian power lifter of international acclaim. He suffers from poliomyelitis, having contracted it when he was just 8 months old.
He did not let the condition hamper his daily life or training; soon after he completed his education, he turned to Powerlifting. A bronze medalist at the Athens Paralympics in the summer of 2004, Rajinder is looking to compete at Rio 2016.
All funds raised will go to the GoSports Foundation, a non-profit venture working towards the development of some of India's most talented junior athletes across Olympic and Paralympic disciplines since 2008.
The approximated expenses of each para-athlete have been detailed by the organisation, and they are looking for help to be able to provide Indian para-sporting talent the help it needs to make its presence felt at the world stage.
Actor Hrithik Roshan personally donated Rs. 10 lakh towards the cause, and it is now open to public who wish to help the athletes fulfil the dreams they are currently held back from, and compete on the largest world sporting stage there is – the Paralympics.
If you want to contribute to this initiative, head to the Ketto.org portal here: Mission Paralympics 2016.
Here’s to getting them to Rio 2016.