Amit Kumar Saroha is a two-time Paralympian and an Arjuna Award winner and a junior-level coach at the Sports Authority of India where he trains fellow para-athletes from across the country. In June this year, gold medal in the men’s club throw event (F51) while his protégé Ekta Bhyan also won a gold and bronze at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Tunisia. His throw of 29.42m is the season’s second best performance and was another example of his success at the level.
However, a goof-up by a publication, confusing his name with that of a dope-tainted javelin thrower, means that his photo and name show up alongside a story of failed drug test when searched on Google.
The original story was about javelin thrower Amit Kumar, who was provisionally suspended by the Athletics Federation of India after testing positive for excessive levels of testosterone, during an exposure trip to Finland. But the 33-year-old para athlete is wheelchair-bound and competes in the F51 category in club throw and discus throw.
Saroha got in touch with the people concerned to rectify it. For him, this is a question of image and reputation.
“I got a lot of calls from people about this and that is when I came to know. I was very mentally disturbed when I first saw, it is a very negative story after all. People who look up my name on Google will see this as among the first stories.
I have been told that they are working on taking the story down and removing it from caches as well. If it happens, it will be good. Because otherwise when anyone searches for Amit Saroha, this false story will pop up and not all people know whether I am a Paralympian or a javelin thrower,” Saroha told Scroll.in.
The GoSports Foundation, that supports the athlete, first spotted the error and posted a clarification on social media. The story has since then been taken down and a corrigendum has been issued.
He may not be a name as well-known, but the Paralympian is a veteran who missed winning a medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympics by a whisker.
Many para athletes in the country – Dharambir, Ekta Bhyan, and Rinku – credit Saroha for their success. He was a national level hockey player before a car accident at the age of 22 caused him to become a quadriplegic. But the wheelchair didn’t take away the athlete’s hunger away.
From hockey, he moved to wheelchair rugby where he came to know about the official Paralympic category under which he could compete and began training for that.
In addition to his World Para Athletics Grand Prix gold, he has two silver medals at the World Para Athletics Championships. In 2017, he broke the Asian record with a personal best throw of 30.25m at IPC World Para Athletics Championships in London.
Saroha is now training for the 2018 Para Asian Games, which will be held in October.