By C D Souza
International para swimmer 19-year old Niranjan M made the country proud recently by winning four medals – two silver and two bronze at the 2013 IWAS(International Wheelchair and Amputee sports) Junior World games held in Puerto Rico from August 6 to 14, 2013.
Niranjan who had taken part in three international events until then and had only a bronze medal to his credit, added four more medals to his kitty at the IWAS junior games.
Representing India, IWAS games was not easy for Niranjan and 2nd year B.com student of Jain University Bangalore. Indian government did not fund the participation of Niranjan who was selected by his club PM Swimming Centre of Bangalore. He, along with his parents had to run from pillar to post looking for sponsors to participate in this international event.
He had promised his sponsors that he would bring laurels to the country and he kept his word by winning four medals – silver medals in 100 M freestyle and 100M butterfly and bronze medals in 1000 M backstroke and 50 M freestyle. “I had promised my sponsors that I would make my country proud and I am happy I could win medals for India”, said an elated Niranjan who seemed visibly happy about his achievements during the telephonic interview with ENARADA.COM.
Dreams for 2016 Para Olympics
Niranjan who aims for the 2016 Para Olympics puts in about six hours of practice every day that includes exercise, physiotherapy and swimming practice.
His day starts at 5.30 am which continues till 8.15 am. From 9 to 2 pm he attends college and spends another two hours in studying for his B.com. In the evening it is again a rigorous regime of practice under the watchful eyes of coach PMSC John Christopher who has trained international swimmer Abhinav.
He was a trifle sad as he could not participate in the 2012 para olympics due to the surgery he underwent for the ulcers in his leg.
Niranjan suffers from Spina Bifida, a common permanently birth defect caused by the incomplete closure of embryonic neural tube. At the age of 10, on the advice of his doctors his parents began to take him for swimming regularly at PMSC, Jayanagar, about 4 kms from his residence.
His father Mukundan and mother Laxmi took the responsibility of taking him to the pool everyday as the doctors had suggested that swimming would strengthen his lower back.
At PMSC he began to train under John Christopher who spotted his potential and groomed him for state, national and international events.
“It was my John who suggested that I could participate in competitive swimming and from then on I began to take swimming seriously”, recalls Niranjan giving full credit to his coach John. Niranjan is not able to use both his legs effectively as the right leg is still weak. He is grateful to his parents for their sacrifices and efforts in making him what he is today.
Fruits of hard work
Niranjan won his first national medal silver in 2004 at the National Para Olympics of India and Asian Swimming Association for Disabled held in Mumbai in the 50M butterfly event.
For the first time in 2011 he represented India in the International IDM German swimming championship for disabled held in Berlin. Though he did not win medals he was placed in the top ten in three events. The experience he gained came in handy for Niranjan who took part in the same even again in 2012 and won a bronze medal in 200M Freestyle event.
Niranjan has also won many medals at the various national events that include winning five medals (3 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze) at the 12th National para swimming championships held in Chennai. He wants to have a final go representing the country at the 2016 Para Olympics and is training hard for the event.
“It is my dream to represent the country in the Para Olympics and win a medal for the country”, says a beaming Niranjan who is confident of bringing laurels to the country once again.
Apart from swimming Niranjan has also shown his talent in Water polo winning medals and finishing in top 6 in many competitions. Niranjan was supported by a NGO ‘“Go Sports” which provided him monetary help and other support in his endeavor to excel in sports.
Niranjan has not allowed his disability or sports to come in the way of his academics. Academically too Niranjan is clear about his goals.
Apart from his B.Com Niranjan is also pursuing his CA as he wants to become a Chartered Accountant which means hard work and determined efforts.
Niranjan is a role model for today’s youngsters as he worked hard despite his disability to emerge as an international swimmer.
For parents whose children are afflicted with any form of disability Niranjan has one advice “Don’t neglect your children just because they are born with some disability”.
For youngsters he has a word of caution. “Have goals in life, stick to them and work hard to achieve them. Success will be yours”.
(Posted on August 22, 2013 @ 3pm)