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‘Paralysed’ gymnast needs a long helping hand

Indians are always on their feet to cheer for the athletes of the country when the Olympic Games begin every four years. Being the second most populous country in the world, having achieved many firsts in the field of technology, people expect India to perform well at international sports meets like the Olympics.

This time too, the expectations were high. The entire nation wanted to applaud the athletes if they won a medal in their respective events. When they failed to deliver the expected results, people started blaming the athletes. Take a break. But have we observed their struggle? Do we even know how they are treated and trained? What are the facilities provided to the athletes who represent India in international competitions?

When we blame our athletes for not winning medals, we should remember their struggle. Indian marathoner Jaisha fell unconscious after her race as there were no Indian officials to provide her water and glucose. Members of Indian women’s hockey team returned to their home towns from Delhi by sitting on the floor of crowded train. Deepa Karmakar represented India in the finals of gymnastics for the first time in history, but people do not know the hard work she had to put in to reach this level.

Indian sportspersons are given the least facilities, but are expected to win more medals! If something goes wrong during the performance, their career will be completely ruined. They don’t get the facilities that they deserve.

As we discuss, one person who comes to mind is Mysuru gymnast Ananth Rao. When he began his career as an aspiring gymnast, he had dreamt of making it big in the international stage. But destiny had other thoughts _ Rao is spending his life on a wheelchair without knowing what to do.

Ananth performed gymnastics since 6th standard, under-14 at district-level and represented Dharwad district until 9th standard as he was selected to SAI Sports Hostel at Dharwad. He then represented Mysuru at district-level competitions and Karnataka at national-level competitions. He has performed 15 times at national level and many state-level competitions. Ananth has won 3 silver and 2 bronze medals at South-Asian level.

It was October 12, 2010, Rao, studying in 2nd BCom at Maharaja College then, was participating in the state-level gymnastic competition. Least did he know that, it would turn out to be the most forgettable day in his life. He was performing floor exercise called summer salt. Instead of releasing his hand, he landed on his neck which completely injured his spinal cord

Rao was soon taken to JSS Hospital by the then Mysuru DC Harsha Gupta and the Dasara Sports Committee looked after the treatment expenses. Doctors declared that nothing else can be done as his spinal cord was completely damaged. Ananth was looking down the drain with no hopes. What is worse, no one ever has bothered to reach out to Rao to offer any help.

Rao was then treated by Bengaluru-based HCG Hospital where he went through stem plantation therapy. Though there was improvement in the beginning, no further development was seen later. Dr Ajay Kumar of HCG Hospital treated him and all the expenses were taken care by the hospital itself. The hospital has also donated an automated wheel chair to Rao.

“My father died few years after my incident. I have no siblings and my mother is old now. I have to take care of my mother at this age but she has to take care of me now. All my efforts requesting the government for a job have gone in vain. I couldn’t even complete my degree due to my problems. I am receiving Rs 3,000 pension since few months. But how can one live with such a small amount in this expensive world? I would expect a job instead of this pension.”

Ray of hope: Two years back, a news story was published in a state newspaper and Chandraprabha, an Ayurvedic therapist, approached Rao and suggested him for Ayurvedic treatment. She has been treating him since then, every week. Ananth is now married to Chandraprabha and a ray of hope is seen in his life now.

“He couldn’t even sit before, but now he can sit in the wheel chair  for 4 hours. I can see improvement in his condition. If he is provided with proper Ayurvedic treatment, he can even start to walk,” says Chandraprabha.

It is estimated that the treatment expenses may go up to around Rs 2.5 lakh as the treatment costs Rs 3,000 per day. Donors can help Ananth in any possible way. His account details are: Name: Ananthraom A/C number: 35700448323 Branch: Kuvempunagar (MYSORE) Branch code: 009053 IFSC Code: SBIN0009053 State bank of India.

His contact details: M – 9741560492, Email ID – [email protected]

Ananth has also learnt 3D animation through his friends and also through online. He aspires to be self dependent and wants to set a career in this field.

– Shrithi Joyappa

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