A Paralympian and an Arjuna Awardee, Amit Kumar Saroha won India’s second medal at the World Para Athletic Championships in London on Monday, by creating a new Asian record in Club Throw (F51 category). After Sundar Singh Gurjar’s gold medal in Javelin Throw, Saroha’s medal is yet another instance of a Paralympian who couldn’t win a medal at Rio 2016, making up for it by a medal at the next biggest stage.
Saroha suffered a car accident when he was 22, causing him to become a quadriplegic due to compression of the spinal cord. Before his injury, Amit was a national level hockey player. However, his tryst with fame as a sportsperson happened after his injury when he met Jonathan Sigworth, an American wheelchair rugby player on a tour of India to promote para sports. Wheelchair rugby introduced Amit to the world of para sports and he joined Sigworth in promoting wheelchair rugby across India.
While playing in a demonstration match of wheelchair rugby with a Brazilian team, he met several para-athletes from across the world and learnt the official Paralympic nomenclature for his injury - F 51. Saroha decided to take training in sports which require upper body strength and started competing in throw ball and discus throw; he has not looked back since.
In 2013, Amit was honoured with the Arjuna Award by the President of India. He won Silver medal in Club throw at the 2015 World Championships in Doha (Qatar), Gold medal in Club throw and silver medal in Discus throw at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon (Korea).
Saroha has also mentored many para-athletes, including Dharambir who competes against his ‘Guru’ in the same event.
Saroha was close to winning India’s fifth medal at the Rio Paralympics. He was poised for the bronze medal in his preferred event – club throw, F51 category, with a then-personal best attempt of 26.63m. But he saw Slovakia’s Marian Kureja go past his mark by 0.19 in his final attempts and the bronze medal eluded him then. The silver at World Para Championships should feel all the more sweet now.
With inputs from GoSports Foundation.