Saturday, June 15, 2024

Paralympic medal in his sight, Gujarat’s Jagdish Parmar lights up Khelo India Para Games

Gujarat’s visually impaired long jumper Jagdish Parmar came up with a gold-winning show in the biggest stadium he has participated in his life so far.

In awe of the massive and world-class Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, Parmar produced a 4.59-metre jump to strike gold in the T11-13 category at the first Khelo India Para Games 2023.

One of the best things that has emerged from these Games is how para athletes want to get better with competition. Parmar has been no different. He dreams of a medal at the Paralympics.

“I am happy that I won the gold but not satisfied with my performance. I wanted to give my personal best of 5.31m. Now I will target the Para Nationals to be held in Goa next month. It is important for me to do this because I have no other option but to do better. Sports is my life and I have also nurtured some dreams.”

Parmar’s father, a resident of Kheda district of Gujarat, is a farmer. According to Parmar, he has not had eyesight since birth. Apart from his mother and father, he has a younger brother and a sister at home and all are able-bodied.

Due to financial constraints, Parmar’s siblings could not pursue their studies, but a determined Parmar never allowed his disability nor his family’s financial situation to come in the way of his dreams.

He has remained resolute in his efforts to become a seven-time national champion in long jump. He has held the title from 2016 to 2023. The 24-year-old Parmars said: “Eyesight never came in my way. I made sports my only support. Earlier I used to play blind cricket. In Gujarat, there is a KhelMahakumbh, in which I played as a blind cricketer. I played for Gujarat Blind Cricket Team in Under-18 and Under-19 from 2010 to 2014.”

Parmar, who stood fifth while participating in the Para Asian Games held in China, recalled the advice of his guru who told him to quit cricket and pursue an Olympic discipline.

He said, “Mauvlik sir trains para-athletes in Kheda, Gujarat. One day I also went there and tried running and long jumping. Sir looked at me and told me to leave cricket and try athletics. Earlier I used to run. I used to do 100m and 200m but later I gave up running and started focusing only on long jump.”

Parmar, who practises under the supervision of Mansukh Tewatia at the Sports Hostel run by the Gujarat government in Kheda district, has also won gold in the Special Nationals for the visually impaired in Delhi in 2018 and 2022. Apart from this, he also won gold in The Open held in America in 2022.

Soft-spoken Parmar said: “I have won many medals in the country but my real dream is to win medals for India in the Paralympics. I work very hard for it and I even quit college because the time didn’t align with my training hours.

“There is no light in my eyes but I do not consider myself less than anyone. I don’t want anyone to show pity on me. As a player, I think like normal players. The only difference is that our games are called para games,” said the Gujarat hero.

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