The Sunday StoryToday, I have proved what I am. Whoever discouraged or insulted me has received the message.

In college, H.N Girisha competed with normal students in high jump events and won prizes in Mysore University-level competitions — in spite of a deformity in the left leg. He was often discouraged or even humiliated because of the deformity. He would rather forget those instances.

“Today, I have proved what I am. Whoever discouraged or insulted me has received the message,” says Girisha, who won a silver medal at the Paralympic Games held in London recently.

Girisha, born into an agricultural family at Hosanagara in Arakalgudu taluk in Karnataka’s Hassan district, has worked hard. His father Nagaraje Gowda and mother Jayamma worked the fields when he went to London.

When he learnt that his son had won a medal at London, Mr. Gowda began to reminisce about Girisha’s early years. Doctors had recommended surgery to correct his deformity when he was a child. “I had no financial support then. I regret it even today,” he says.

Girisha had given up a private bank job to join the Sports Authority of India for training after he was chosen to take part in the Paralympics. A week before leaving for London, he met the Deputy Commissioner of Hassan and sought help to get a government job, based on his achievements in athletics. Deputy Commissioner K.P. Mohan Raj suggested that he apply for the post of village accountant, recruitment for which was done at the district level.

When he visited Hassan after winning the silver, the Deputy Commissioner felicitated him. The former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, who represents Hassan in the Lok Sabha, broke his road journey from Bangalore to Chikmagalur to congratulate him. “I was in need of a job . I got support for it because of the medal,” Girisha says. He is happy with the cash award, and the job offers from the Karnataka government and the Centre, post-victory.

“The Centre has treated winners of both Olympics and Paralympics alike. The State government granted Rs. 5 lakh each to all Olympians, and the disabled were not discriminated against. I wish all disabled people with talent got support at a young age,” he said.

More In: National | News