Wheelchair-bound Paralympian Nir Bahadur Gurung's name goes missing from National Sports Award

Wheelchair-bound Paralympian Nir Bahadur Gurung
Wheelchair-bound Paralympian Nir Bahadur Gurung
Navneet Singh

Wheelchair-bound Paralympian Nir Bahadur Gurung is known as “motivational guru” to several para-athletes in India. The 66-year-old has inspired more than a hundred injured athletes, particularly those with Army backgrounds, to take up para sports.

Satyapal Singh, the Dronacharya Awardee, said that Gurung has been instrumental in setting up the foundation of para sports in India.

“He (Gurung) started competing in para sports in late 1980s. He has won more than 55 international medals, 31 of them gold. He also won medals in five consecutive Para Asian Games,” said Singh.

The highlight of Gurung’s three decades old career in para-sports was a sixth-place finish at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games in discus throw. Encouraged by his well-wishers, he applied for the National Sports Awards this year.

Gurung’s name was recommended for the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award by the selection panel appointed by the sports ministry.

Gurung’s camp was in celebratory mood.

“We were happy that Gurung Sir will have the Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award. But the joy was short-lived. His name wasn’t approved by the sports ministry,” points out an international para-athlete.

The original list recommended by the selection panel goes back to the sports ministry for final approval. It was the first time in the history of the National Sports Awards, said an international para-athlete the sports ministry pruned the list after it was recommended by the selection panel.

Gurung has a new family of his own

Gurung of Gorkha Regiment was injured while on duty in Northern India in 1983. Thereafter, he was wheelchair bound. The former Army personnel doesn’t want to divulge how he got injured.

“In the Army we are not supposed to disclose how and when injured,” he said.

But the Athens Paralympian was deeply hurt as his name was struck off the original list of awardees. His last international competition was in 2017

“My name was recommended by the selection panel appointed by the sports ministry. It was later rejected by the ministry. It is unfair,” Gurung said from his Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center in Kirkee, near Pune, Maharashtra.

Gurung doesn’t have a family. Kirkee’s Paraplegic Rehabilitation Center has been his home ever since he was confined to a wheelchair in mid 1980s’.

Competing in para sports gives me immense pride. Sharing experiences and inspiring others gives him the inner satisfaction.

“My family is para-athletes with whom I share a common bond. I am satisfied with what I am doing,” was his response when asked about his future plans.

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Edited by Diptanil Roy
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