Para-athletes in India have time and time again suffered due the apathy of officials who have put their personal interests above that of the athletes'. However, 2013 Arjuna awardee Paralympian Amit Saroha believes the, now suspended, Para Athletics Committee of India (PCI) will set its house in order soon and the athletes would able to take part in events under PCI's flag
"Without a functional federation we face a lot of difficulties. A lot of young players have missed out on opportunities to take part in several events. Things are moving in a positive direction and PCI should soon be able to get its act together so that we maximise our chances of winning a medal," said Saroha.
PCI has been in turmoil after factions within the committee have been loggerheads for quite some time now. With fresh elections likely to be held this year, athletes likes Saroha are expecting a positive outcome.
Saroha believes PCI should focus on promoting para-athletics as it has a bright future in India. " We have a lot of potential. There are some really good athletes I know who can win a medal in the Paralympics next year. But we need the PCI to be functional."
Currently, para-athletes are training under the aegis of Sports Authority of India (SAI) since PCI's suspension back in April. "SAI is taking good care of us. All our requirements are met," said Saroha. Saroha, a 2014 Para Asian Games gold medallist, has already qualified for club and discuss throw events for Paralympics. "I won't promise that I will win a medal at the Paralympics, but I can ensure you that I'll put my best foot forward."
Saroha, who was a national-level hockey player, met with an accident in 2007 which left him left wheelchair-bound ever since. Initially, he was heartbroken when the doctors told him he could not walk again. But just when Saroha thought he had no hope, he met Jonathan Sigworth, an American wheelchair rugby player. They together set out to promote wheelchair rugby in India.
Saroha soon made his foray into individual sports disciplines like discuss and club throw. He has won several accolades in both national and international events. He takes part in F-51, a category meant for athletes with limitations in both lower and upper limbs. Saroha is often invited to educational institutes to deliver motivational speeches. "I just share my experience. I don't know if it's inspirational or not. I talk about the incidents that have happened in my life and how they have shaped me. I am glad if it inspires people."