What started as a compulsory activity in school changed Sharath Gayakwad’s life and he became the first Indian to win six medals in a multi-disciplinary sport event at the Asian Para-games in Incheon, South Korea, 2014. He broke the record of legendary P.T. Usha who had won five medals at the 1986 Asian Games.
In spite of being born with a deformed left hand, Gayakwad was always interested in sports and took up swimming at the age of nine when it was made mandatory in his school as a life-saving skill.
Though his family wanted him to go for higher studies and get a more academic-based career, he persuaded them to allow him to follow his passion, and eventually they did. After that, Gayakwad just went from strength to strength, as he was selected for 2003 FESPIC Youth Games in Hong Kong where he won one Silver and four Bronze medals.
Gayakwad’s passion for the sport and dedication has won him over 39 international medals and 55 national medals so far.
The disability is something which he doesn’t think about much now. “It is a part of me and I have accepted it and even found a way where it doesn’t matter anymore,” he says. Having faced challenges initially in doing things as basic as putting on clothes, there is nothing that Gayakwad cannot do now.
“I guess it is very important to identify your strength and work on it. Never think you cannot do something, it just might take a little longer than others ,” he concludes.