Manoj Sarkar, a Tokyo Paralympics bronze medalist in badminton, interacted with over 300 children from across 75 schools at Lalit Arya Mahila Inter College in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, under the "Meet the Champion" initiative on Tuesday (March 22).
Manoj participated in the initiative envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inculcate the importance of a balanced diet (Saantulit Aahar), fitness and sports among students across the country.
The Meet the Champions initiative is jointly organized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and the Ministry of Education. This outreach program aims to connect India’s ace athletes with school children.
Speaking to students about the importance of eating right, Manoj Sarkar said:
“No food is good or bad, eating right just means controlled intake of food. It is also important to take on regular physical activities to digest what we eat. Remember, Fitness Ki Dose, Aadha Ghanta Roz.”
The 32-year-old para shuttler also showed the students several interesting pictorial representations. The animated videos elaborated on why correct nutrition is important.
A short quiz session based on nutrition, sports and fitness was also held by Manoj during the event. The quiz was all the more exciting as the winners received Indian Paralympic jerseys.
Shruti Burgali, of Krishna Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School, Haldwani, shared her experience at the interative session. She said:
“Through this program, I have not only learned about the importance of a good diet but Manoj Sir has also taught (us) how to succeed amidst all odds."
Manoj Sarkar talks to students about importance of balanced diet in his life:
Manoj suffers from Post Polio Residual Paralysis (PPRP) of the lower limb, which was the effect of the wrong medical assistance he received when he was just a year old.
Manoj shared his struggles as an athlete during his teenage days, saying the reason he didn't fare well in competitions then was because of the lack of a balanced diet.
Speaking on the importance of Saantulit Aahar, Manoj said:
“I gave my 100 per cent in these competitions but never understood the meaning of Saantulit Aahar, which is the main source of energy to perform the best in all fields."
Enduring hardships and overcoming his disability to win a Paralympic medal is a huge achievement. He said:
“From a 10 rupee racket and painting walls for a livelihood till clinching a medal for the country and standing here to motivate you all, is a big achievement for me today."