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Challa Pavan Kumar, our very own blade runner

Challa Pavan Kumar

Challa Pavan Kumar  

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Challa Pavan Kumar is struggling to find an entry to the Rio Olympics this year

It has been an unfortunate story of missed opportunities for India’s first blade runner, Challa Pavan Kumar. Even now, the future looks bleak — not for want of commitment or hard work from his side but for want of support from the desired quarters. And, his dream to compete in the Rio Olympics this year too hangs in balance with India being banned by the international body from competing for alleged irregularities in the Ghaziabad Nationals last year. He is now struggling to find a way out to first enter the qualifying events in Switzerland and Italy and sees no light at the end of the long tunnel of despair.

This 27-year-old Hyderabadi’s notable feats including a silver in 100 m and bronze in 200 m in the second China Open athletics championship. For someone who nursed childhood dreams of being a fighter pilot, tragedy struck him when he was pursuing Intermediate in 2005 August in the form of a road accident his right leg has to be removed in a surgery.

“Yes, it was a nightmare and in fact a close call for life itself. But, thanks to my parents support, I am what I am today,” recalls Pavan, who soon started dabbling in video editing (his father owns a small dubbing studio). “But, life has never been the same. The dreams shattered, forcing me to rethink about my future. Then, a generous doctor sponsored me a carbon fibre blade and inspired me to train for the marathons,” recalls the indefatigable blade runner. Clearly, the now-maligned Oscar Pistorious was the inspiration for Pavan who decided to try out his destiny in athletics. “I did take part in some big events in India including the Airtel Hyderabad, Wipro Chennai, Mumbai marathons and got a feel of what it means to compete with a blade at that level. I must tell you that I enjoyed it and never felt that I was handicapped,” he points out.

“Yes, the Beijing Grand Prix in 2014 was a reminder of the struggle we para-athletes face. When I was given the entry, I could not find any sponsor but had to take a personal loan and compete in that,” rues Pavan. “But, the joy of being declared as the country’s first blade runner in that event brushed aside all the agony for me,” he recalls with a sense of pride. He later even took part in the Tunisian Grand Prix meet also.

Lack of financial support and want of a proper blade also saw Pavan miss the huge opportunity of representing India in the 2014 Asian Games.

Clearly in the mood not to miss any outside chance of making the cut for the Rio Games, Pavan is desperately looking for some sponsorship to let him train and compete in the qualifying events in Switzerland and Italy before June.

“The qualifying mark in 100 m in 12 seconds and right now clocking 13.75. So, if only I get the financial support, I am confident of making it to the Olympics,” says Pavan who is under the guidance of SAI athletics coach Nagapuri Ramesh at Gachibowli Stadium.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 9:50:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/challa-pavan-kumar-our-very-own-blade-runner/article8188502.ece

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