For a short man, Joby Mathew has consistently scaled great heights.
His return from the United States after bagging five gold medals at the just concluded World Dwarf Games held at the Michigan State University has only heightened the bar this ‘pocket-sized’ dynamo from Pala has set for himself.
In his debut appearance in the Games, also known as the World Dwarf Olympic Games, Joby reigned supreme in badminton singles and doubles, shot put, discus throw and javelin by beating contestants from more than 33 countries. Incidentally, he is the defending national champion in all his medal-winning events.
Joby was given a rousing reception at the Cochin International Airport Limited at Nedumbassery when he arrived from Delhi on Monday morning. He was accompanied by Akash S. Madhavan, who won a silver medal and a bronze medal each in shot put and javelin, and C.S. Baiju, who missed a medal after losing in badminton quarter finals.
Joby, the reigning arm wrestling champion in the 60kg-disabled category, turned to games other than arm wrestling four years ago. “I have been preparing for the Games for the last three years and the training turned intense in the last one year. This is for the first time that an Indian has secured five gold medals in the Games,” said Joby, with a tinge of pride in his voice.
He has been hitting the gym consistently for five days a week while practising badminton in the evenings in three of those days. Saturdays were dedicated solely for throw events to shore up the power quotient.
The training was tough as he had to adjust his physique in a markedly different way from what was needed for arm wrestling. For instance, arm wrestling demands bigger biceps and triceps whereas a game like badminton needs more flexibility, which comes with a toned-down biceps and triceps. To get himself back in the shape for arm wrestling, Joby plunges into heavy training two months from the world arm wrestling event.
The trip to the United States proved beneficial to the strongman in another way. “During the course of the Games I was able to meet a few ‘little superheroes’ who are celebrities in their own right after acting in Hollywood films. During my interactions with them I was told that my strong upper body and powerful arms make me a fit candidate for playing superhero characters in animation films and science–fiction movies made with the help of computer graphics,” he said.
While they have promised to get back to him, Joby has no time to waste as he is gearing up for the arm wrestling championship to be held in Poland in October. After a gap of two weeks’ rest, he will get back to training to do what he does the best; wrestle the rivals in to submission.