Rajbir Singh: The Special Olympics gold medallist who pushes wheelchairs for a living
What's the Story?
Rajbir Singh, a 17-year-old boy from Ludhiana, who is suffering from 'below average intellectual and adaptive functioning' was given a warm welcome back home when he returned from the 2015 Los Angles Special Olympics. Singh won two gold medals for India in cycling in the 1 km and 2 km events.
Sadly though, Rajbir was forced to work as a labourer for a couple months despite the fact that he had won medals for the country.
He was promised a cash prize of Rs 15 lakh by the Punjab Government in 2015. In addition to this, the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also announced a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.
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Rajbir was given an additional Rs 10 lakh by the Union Government but the amount has not matured and is in form of bonds, leaving the teenager with little option for earning a living.
Heart of the Matter
As of today, the Olympian pushes wheelchairs in an NGO and does odd jobs to sustain his family. His condition was first noticed by Gurpreet Singh, founder of the NGO that Rajbir works in. Gurpreet gave him a cycle and took care of his medicines and diet.
Rajbir's father Balbir claims that they have received only Rs 50,000 of the promised cash prize, which was supposed to be Rs 15 lakh. Gurpreet Singh approached the local deputy commissioner regarding Rajbir's compensation but no action has been taken so far.
While Rajbir's father Balbir is grateful for all that Gurpreet has done for them, Gurpreet is still fighting Rajbir's case. He hopes that Rajbir can receive his full compensation some day.
Currently employed at the NGO, Rajbir is living a much better life. It is the duty of the present government to ensure that Rajbir gets his due and provide him with adequate training facilities for future Special Olympics events.
It is a shame that India's athletes who aren't well known are discriminated this way. Even though Rajbir won a medal at the Special Olympics, an Olympic gold medal is a gold medal. It is high time that our leaders stop indulging in petty politics and focused on issues like Rajbir's case.