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Story of grit and guts

“One day I was a sportsman full of dreams about making it big as a javelin thrower. The next day, I lost a hand. For three whole months I did not leave my room in the sports academy in Jaipur. I cried day and night, unable to bear the shock. After I was done crying, I stood up and thought that maybe I have a chance as a para-athelete,” said Sundar Gurjar, a para-athelete from Rajasthan to receive Arjuna award this year.

The 23-year-old is a resident of Hindaun city in Karauli who joined a sports training academy in Jaipur in 2009 hoping to make it big as a shot put player. “I was not very good in studies but I used to play sports in school and won medals in school national as well. I therefore thought of trying at the Rajasthan Sports Academy, Jaipur. Though, this was not the career choice my parents wanted me to opt at that time,” said Gurjar.

Son of a farmer, Gurjar underwent coaching under coach, Mahaveer Saini since the admission. “Sundar was a very hardworking student since the beginning. He is somebody who immediately grasps what is taught to him. I analysed that he is a natural Javelin thrower therefore I asked him to start with Javelin throw instead of shot put,” said Saini.

Things were going as desired for Gurjar until October 2015 when Gurjar along with his coach and family had to go through a major test in their lives. “I was in Dausa at my friend’s place when I met with a major accident. Before I could analyse what had happened, I was told that my left hand will have to be amputated from my body in order to avoid infections. I was completely blank about what was going on around me. Things just moved very fast and I returned to my room in the academy,” He said.

Gurjar did not leave his room for three months. His only visitors were his family, close friend and his coach. “My coach came to meet me daily and advised me to continue exercising. Had he not been by my side, I would have still been sitting in the same room, crying about what happened,” said Gurjar.

“Now we had to deal with Sundar very differently. Apart from being by his side through the mental breakdown, we had to find alternative ways of exercise for him. Certain exercises like bench press, weight lifting were not possible with a single hand,” said Saini.

Sundar started to practice again since February 2016 as a para-athelete and made a national record of throwing Javelin upto 68.42 metres in Panchkula National games in 2016. He never looked back after achieving a major push through the national award. He won a gold medal in the London world championship in 2017, followed by three gold medals in shot put, discus and Javelin throw at World Grand Pix in Dubai,

Other achievements in the long list of medals include silver medal in Asian Games, Indonesia 2018; gold medal in World Grand Pix in Germany and Switzerland in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

The second major blow to Gurjar’s career was when he was disqualified at the Rio Olympics in 2016. “I was 52 seconds late for my appearance in the game. I was hence disqualified. I was a record holder then and in full form but due to some internal politics I was not told about my turn to throw Javelin. I was completely broken and came back to India,” said Gurjar.

Saini has been by Gurjar’s side for the last three years. “He was so broken mentally that I feared for his well-being. I have never left him alone since the day he came back from the Rio Olympics. It took a very long time from him to come back to form. Hopefully the Arjun Award will motivate him to do much better,” said Saini.

Gurjar is presently eyeing the World Championship, Dubai which will to be held in 2019 and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, 2020.

“After the grief, a point comes when you have to stand up and leave your past behind. I am hopeful about what lies ahead with my coach, family and well wishers by my side,” said Gurjar.

Gurjar is presently under training at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi at a national camp.

(HT Meida)

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