Swimming with buffaloes, washing cars and winning medals in | Milaap

Swimming with buffaloes, washing cars and winning medals in between: Story of Bharat Kumar and how you can help him

“Please let me run. I will not only run but also win.” Bharat was in class 4 when he requested his teacher to let him participate in a running event. This was the start of his journey in the field of athletics. He not only overturned his teacher’s worry about him falling due to the lack of a left arm, but also came first in both the 50 metre and 100 metre sprints.

Hailing from a working-class family, Bharat learned the lesson of hard work early on. He attended school without shoes but was mature enough to know that he had to stand on his own feet. When given the responsibility of rearing four buffaloes, Bharat used this as an opportunity to learn how to swim. He would wade into the river with the buffaloes and hung onto their tails to stay afloat in the water.

Despite the odds, he won rewards and recognition  

“By 12, I knew that I needed to work very hard to succeed in life. I needed to educate myself, earn to take care of myself and my family and fuel my passion which is sports,” he explains.

Bharat entered zonal, district, national and international level paralympics competitions and by 2010, he had 40 national and 2 international medals. However, in 2010, Bharat had a leg injury. His feet hit a stone and off balance, he fell. The bone of his heel was damaged and the operation would cost around Rs 90,000 which he could not afford.

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Passion to represent India at the Asian Games 

He let go of his passion for running, but nothing could truly stop the sportsman in Bharat. He loved sports and could never forget the feeling of pride that washed over him when he donned the Indian jersey while represented the country. Swimming brought Bharat back into competing and between 2011 to 2015, he has participated and won many more medals at the national level.

Bharat has now his eyes set on the Asian Games 2018, and wants to bag a medal for India. However, has not been able to practice for the last six months. Without a job, and holding only a BA, Bharat needs to take care of his aging parents. At 27, he is the one responsible for consoling his father when his father wishes he could have given his son more opportunities.

As things are today, out of sheer necessity, Bharat washes cars to make a living with the Rs 3,500 he gets paid for washing cars. Sometimes, he has needed to even sell his medals, to meet emergency expenses. 

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Waiting for a guardian angel to help him 

Bharat supports his parents, studies in the evening college and practices his sport. To compete at the international level, Bharat needs to rent a room in Delhi, from where he can access the swimming pool for practice. As a sportsperson, he will also need to eat a healthy diet with high protein and good fats.

Not giving up, and ever the self-reliant champion, Bharat has personally petitioned to the Prime Minister for financial help. People from his college even petitioned Shah Rukh Khan, his idol for financial help. But so far, there has not been any response.

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Undying spirit and thirst to continue to shine for the country 

Bharat does not entertain the idea that his petition will fall on deaf ears and continues to hope for help. His optimistic spirit simply refuses to acknowledge setbacks. He cites the example of all his idols and the early difficulties they all faced to emerge victorious in the end.

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This is a national-level champion who believes in victory and the virtue of gritty, hard work. Let us do our bit to set him towards his goal.

Here's how you can help Bharat 

Every year, Bharat has dared to dream to play for the country, despite his disability. He dreams of being recognised and supported. This is an opportunity for you to help Bharat and be a part of his success story. The Asian Games 2018 is going to happen 30 months from now. So a total of 30,000x30 = Rs 9,00,000 would be needed for Bharat's training and sustainence.

Your contribution of Rs. 500 or more for Bharat will help him to win laurels for the country. You will also receive updates on the fund utilization and the impact you've made in his life.

To help Bharat represent India at the Asian games, you can click here.