The national championship held in Bangalore recently had over 350 competitors from 17 States across the country

A team of athletes from Tamil Nadu, that took part in the National Paralympic Swimming Championship 2013 held in Bangalore recently, has returned with 27 medals and won championships under two categories.

The event had over 350 competitors from 17 States across the country.

One of the champions, P. Venkatesan, who won two gold and two silver medals at the event, lost both his arms in an accident at the age of 10.

“I thought my life was over as I would never be able to write any exam,” Venkatesan told The Hindu over the phone. Venkatesan’s parents are agricultural labourers in Dharmapuri.  

“I have always wanted to swim the fastest. Now, parents want me to teach their children swimming. There can be no greater joy than this,” said the 28-year-old, who teaches Tamil in a school.

Madhavi Latha, general secretary, Paralympic Swimming Association of Tamilnadu, said the number of people from the State participating in swimming events had increased significantly  over the years, especially after the State government started organising swimming workshops for the rural youth from last year.

“We had just four participants in 2011, but now there are over 39 participants. And, 90 per cent of these participants are from rural areas,” she said, adding a good coach and a physiotherapist boosted the efforts of the athletes.

T. Padmavathi, mother of 11-year-old R. Mayure, a student in Chennai, who won three gold medals at the event, said she started taking her daughter to participate in swimming events, because winning in them made her confident.

Mayure’s health condition had confined her to the wheelchair.

“Doctors told us she had to keep swimming for health reasons. It is really nice that she is extremely good at it,” said Ms. Padmavathi.