Sharath Gayakwad is looking forward to participating in the paralympics

Sharath Gayakwad won a bronze in the 100 m breast stroke, clocking one minute and 20.90 seconds. The medal came as a huge relief to the lanky swimmer with a deformed left arm after he had narrowly missed the medal bracket in the 100m butterfly, 50 m and 100m freestyle and 200 m individual medley. The performance also enabled Sharath to qualify for the Paralympics, scheduled to be held in London in 2012. Sharath had been a medallist in the IWAS Games held in Taipei and in Bangalore in 2009 respectively.

Talking about the Para Asian Games, Sharath says, “It was not easy and I faced tough competition, especially from the swimmers from China and other nations. I had to give my best and was determined not to return home without a medal.”

Sharath has been swimming for over a decade and began his career as a student of Little Flower School. “Swimming was compulsory for students from Class IV. Initially, I had some reservations, but my coaches ensured that I was comfortable and learned the basics properly.”

He has been training under coach John Christopher at the P.M. Swim Centre in Jayanagar for six years. “He has been very patient and does not treat me differently; I am just a part of the swimming team. There are certain areas where I need special attention. The coaches have worked on my strength and weaknesses,” says Sharath.

John contends that Sharath has been a dedicated swimmer. “Training Sharath was a new experience. A physically challenged swimmer relies more on his legs than the arms. In Sharath's case, I had to make sure that he develops a strong pair of legs and that the normal arm generates enough power. There are, of course, certain drawbacks and one has to ensure that he does not get injured or develop a sore arm. We do a lot of physio work to keep him fit and strong.”

Sharath also takes time out for training. “I spend six hours for training and my college (Shree Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain) has been very supportive. I got admitted on sports quota with a good concession and get time for training. They also hold special classes for me.”

Though his life revolves around swimming, he relaxes with books and listens to music. The Aussie swimming sensation Ian Thorpe is his idol.

Sharath's focus is on winning a medal at the Paraylmpics in London. “We plan to make some changes in his training and also get him participate in couple of international meets before the Paralympics. We want him to race in an international invitation meet in Germany and the IWAS Games this year,” says John.

For Sharath to realise his Paralympics dream, he needs a good sponsor. “Training, travelling and a long term preparation is needed. A meet like the Paralympics costs a lot of money and given his financial background, he needs a good support base. He is a talent who is bound to deliver,” says John.