At 23, he had won 60 medals in junior and senior categories at karate tournaments.
At 28, Hari Om Shukla is selling tea at a stall in a lane in Mathura district.
Life has taken a turn for the worse — in just five years.
His funds have dried up, there is no job support and he has been dumped by the government too.
“It all seems like a dream now. I used to work in a private educational institute that supported me in pursuing my passion. But, later, they stopped the funding. I started teaching karate to school children but that also stopped in the lockdown. I had no other choice left, but to sell tea” said Shukla.
Shukla joined his father’s tea stall and now sells tea to provide for the family.
“I have a two-year-old son and there are other family expenses too. How long can I sit at home, waiting for the tide to turn?” he asked and added, “Today, I do not even have the money to pay to get a copy of my graduation degree.”
Hari Om Shukla has met Mathura MP Hema Malini and state Power Minister Shrikant Sharma, but no help has yet been forthcoming.
A resident of Mathura, Shukla had started training for karate in 2006 at the age of 13.
After several junior-level medals, Shukla’s first international medal came when he participated in an event in Thailand.
In 2009, he won a bronze medal in Kumite at 14th International Funakoshi Cup Karate Championship in Mumbai.
Shukla won gold and silver medals in 2013 in Thailand, which was organized by World Kumite Organization.
In 2015, Shukla won a gold medal in the Senior Men’s Kumite tournament under ’75-80 kg’ in Sri Lanka. He also bagged the silver medal in Senior Men’s Kata ‘open group’ in the same event organized by International Shotokai Karate-DO Federation, Sri Lanka.
Shukla’s coach, Amit Gupta, said that the government should support athletes.
“The government can provide him a job as a coach in some school so that he can earn and also pursue his passion by preparing athletes,” Gupta said.
Karate is enrolled in the Tokyo Olympics. But due to internal politics, no player from India will be able to participate in it. This game is almost on the verge of extinction due to politics, Gupta claimed.