From Swimming With Buffalo To Winning International Medals; The Story Of A One Armed Swimm
International para (दिव्यांग) swimmer Bharat Kumar is forced to work as a car washer and wants to sell all his medals. He has represented India in the international championships and won more than 50 medals.
Here is TLI exclusive Interview with Bharat Kumar:
■ Bharat can you tell us about your journey so far in the sport?
> I started in 2004 from the Nehru Stadium in Delhi as a swimmer, and now I have more than 50 medals and have represented India at international level and won 2 international titles in swimming.
■ How did your interest grow in swimming?
>There is a canal connecting Ghaziabad and Vaishali near Delhi; I used to swim there with my buffalo in 2002. I did not have one hand since birth so I used to take buffaloes for grazing and then getting them a bath in the canal. One day my friends had a competition of jumping in to the canal that who will be the first one to jump. As I had my buffaloes in the canal I came forward and jumped in to the river and got hold of the tail of my buffalo to swim across with it, there started my swimming which got me 50 medals, some nationals and some internationals as well.
■ From swimming with buffaloes to winning international titles must have been challenging, tell us about those difficulties.
>Problems and challenges were from the beginning. Biggest one is the poverty. Both of my parents do low paying manual job, so does my brother. As I just had one hand nobody gave me even the manual job. Instead of giving job they looked at me with pity and often said, “poor fellow see he can’t even do any work”. I did not have any job and my interest was always in sports, that is what I used to do all the time so I think it made way for me. Poverty is a very big problem, parents can’t give you money, job I did not have, work nobody gives me so my days were running on the mercy of my friends and they also can not support me for lifetime.
But one day I saw Sharukh khan’s interview where he said that the strong people never give up, how big the challenge may be and they achieve their goals. And my coach also said Shahrukh was from Delhi and if you also work hard one day you will also be appreciated and be famous too.
But still I face the same problem I have more than 50 medals but no job. When I ask for job people just stare at me, I don’t know what they look at, can’t they just say no or yes.
And one day I was angry and tweeted to PM directly. I am not the person, who breaks heart, breaks ATM, breaks Bank or breaks trust for money. I always think positive and think good of others.
■ You have won more than 50 medals so you must have participated in many events; can you tell us about those events.
>If you talk about outside India I have played in England, Ireland, Holland, Malaysia, China etc. I have two international titles; silver & gold. I am not participating in international events now because of money. Sportsman is like an elephant, it is easy to buy one but tough to feed it. My diet may cost 400-500 a day equipment are costly, shoes & clothes are custom made so everything is costly; where
I will get all these facilities. But I still play nationals and win too.
I want to win in coming Asian games, if Modi ji can help me I will definitely win medals for country.
■We respect your strong will, what is your message to the logical Indian community.
>”My name is Bharat Kumar and I am an international athlete. Please treat me like that, help me support me, now I need financial support. Please don’t sympathize and have pity on me; I am very strong physically and mentally, may be you can try fighting with me. I just need your support; I need help from the country. If you help me, I will show you winning medals for the country.
I want to fulfill my parents dream, I heard somewhere “To be born in poverty in not sin but to die in poverty is”, so I don’t want them to die in poverty.
God gave us life, parents gave birth now it is up to us how hard we work and how far we go, this is all about your dreams and passion.”
“”Paida hue aur ghis-ghis ke mar gaye (living a mediocre life)” I don’t like that life. I am a fighter, I will shout, cry, fight but will reach my goal, Nobody is born star you work hard for your dream to become one, you have got just one life why not live doing something worthy” he further added.