Dubai: He was born on the same day India became a Republic. No wonder, Girisha Nagarajegowda feels that extra tinge of patriotism when it comes to his country.
And then there are former Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s motivational words on “every Indian nurturing a dream for his country”.
“I was born to excel for my country. What has happened in the past belongs to the past. It is the future that inspires me to give off my best for India,” Nagarajegowda told Gulf News on a brief tour to Dubai along with his coach Satyanarayana where he addressed students of the JSS International School in Al Barsha late last week.
Born on January 26, 1988 with an impairment on his left leg, the Bangalore lad shot into the limelight when he clinched a silver medal in the men’s high jump — the only one for the 10-member Indian squad at this summer’s London Paralympics Games.
“I don’t really think of what I have achieved. That is past for me. What I need now is focus on the future and ensure I get a gold medal at the next Games in Rio de Janeiro,” he said.
First taste of success
Nagarajegowda’s entry into sports was more by coincidence than something that was pre-planned. His first taste of success came when he won a prize at the state-level sports meet in Dharwad, Karnataka when he competed with normal sportsmen. That gave him a taste to dream the bigger dream and set him up in pursuit of his ambition of flying the Indian flag high.
His first achievement at the international level came when he won a bronze at the Junior World Championships for the Disabled in Ireland in 2006 after which he took another bronze medal at the Mysore University sports meet. This was followed by a gold medal at the national high jump championship followed by another two gold medals at athletic meets in Kuwait and Malaysia.
“I was decided on what I wanted to do, and now after this silver medal in London, I am certain I want a full-time career in sports,” he added.
One of the effects of his Paralympics medal is the awareness of the Paralympic Movement in India. “And I am certain our squad will go up to 50 athletes [compared to only 10 athletes in London] for Rio,” Nagarajegowda said.
On his part, Nagarajegowda has already commenced his preparations with Rio 2016 in mind, although he has the IPC World Championships in Paris next year, followed by the Asian Games in Incheong, South Korea in 2014.
“It’s just one training session in the morning at the moment, but slowly I will shift to my normal schedule by December,” Nagarajegowda said.
“The other competitions along the way are meant to help me tune myself towards the bigger goal. The dream is to come back with a gold medal for India from Brazil in four years’ time,” he added.