Girisha stresses on respect owed from sports fraternity
“I can’t believe I’m getting so much love and attention,” said a thrilled Paralympic Games silver medallist Girisha Hosanagara Nagaraje Gowda.
He looked visibly overwhelmed by being in the spotlight, showered by garlands by adoring fans, officials and the lone Minister, Appachu Ranjan, Wednesday afternoon.
The felicitation to the Hassan hero was accompanied by the rhythm of vigorous drumbeats and incessant cheering. “I want to tell people that physically challenged athletes should be accepted by the sports fraternity. They need to be given the respect they deserve,” he told the audience at the function organised by the Department of Sports and Youth Services.
Several physically challenged athletes made it a point to come for the event to get a glimpse of their hero. Devindra Sharma, a wheelchair tennis player, said: “We face a lot of discrimination within the fraternity. A victory like this is an inspiration for all of us.”
Mr. Nagarajegowda, who gave India its first Paralympic medal in the high jump event, confessed initially he was not confident of getting a medal but remained focused on his performance.
His coach Sathyanarayan was all praise for his student. “He is disciplined and therefore it was easy for me to hone his talent.”
The proud coach also said his ward’s next aim was a gold at the International Paralympic Committee World Championship in France, July 2013. Mr. Sathyanarayan said coaching physically challenged athletes alongside other athletes would go a long way in helping them improve.
Mr. Ranjan said he would try to push a Bill to provide reservation for athletes in government jobs. Incidentally, Mr. Nagarajegowda, who hails from a family of farmers, was looking for a government job before he left for London to compete at the Paralympic Games.
Mr. Ranjan also spoke about the need to look at other countries like China and Japan and replicate their model to tap talent at the district level.
Later, at a function at his home office Krishna, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar handed over a cheque for Rs.20 lakh to the athlete and Rs.1 lakh each to his coach and support staff.