A champion with no hands: Vishwas K S guides Indian para-swimming team to success in Canada
The Indian para-swimming team has made the country proud again, after a successful outing at the recently concluded Speedo Can Am International Para swimming Championships in Canda’s capital Ottawa. The team was buoyed by the performances of Bengaluru based swimmer Vishwas K S, who won three medals including two silvers and a bronze, in the breaststroke and backstroke events respectively. India finished within the top 10 among 30 other competing countries.
Vishwas’ victory is further accentuated by the fact that he did without the presence of his hands. The 26-year old lost his arms aged just 10, when he accidentally slipped on live electric wires. He said, “My father used to work as a clerk in the Agriculture department, he rushed me to the hospital, I was in coma for close to two weeks. My father tried to save me, but he lost his life in the process. The doctors said If they wanted me to survive, it had to be without my hands.”
He made it into the the national para-swimming setup after impressing selectors during a tournament in Belgavi. Three gold medals at that event, saw the Sports Authority of India (SAI) coaches immediately give him the Canada nod. He added, “Before swimming, I made sure I completed my education at any cost, after doing that I worked here and there as I was not paid for swimming, but now I’m more motivated than ever to make swimming my only profession. I know Rio 2016 is not possible for me, but I can assure qualification for Tokyo 2020.”
An NGO named Book a smile helped Vishwas attain his swimming dream, along with nutritional and infrastructural help coming in from another NGO, Astha. Sunil Jain from Astha said, “Vishwas only took up swimming properly two years ago, his success so far is the work of several people, who have worked day and night to help him reach this particular goal. I foresee several other para-athletes doing really well, if they are given the right exposure and groomed well.”
Three members from the team including Vishwas K S, Satendra Singh and Mohammed Shams Alam were included in SAI's “no cost for government” scheme. India’s first ever paralympic medal was won by a swimmer in Murlikant Petkar, we could finally see another para-swimmer at the top of the podium very soon.