Every athlete has a fire, but the champion knows how to ignite the spark. There is a saying that ‘human spirit is one of ability, perseverance and courage that no disability can steal away’. For Wheelchair athlete Harish Verma story is nothing short of an inspiration one, as he powered his way to glory inspite of not having proper support.
Verma, who is country’s finest paraplegic arm wrestler, works as a government employee and works as a contractual employee for Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation(AMC), and his meager pay of Rs 12000 is not enough to sustain his family and passion for arm wrestling.
He had approached the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation and the state and central government several times to help him get sports funding. However, each time he has been rejected on the grounds that arm-wrestling is a non-Olympic sport.
Verma works as a gym trainer in an AMC-run gymnasium at Kankaria Lake in Ahmedabad to earn extra money to fund the training. Inspite of all the issues, the Para-Arm Wrestler who lost his legs to polio at the age of two have made the country proud by winning 2 medals at the World Arm Wrestling Championship.
Speaking to the quint he said, “I received a rejection letter from the Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG). So I asked them why can’t I get help as a special case. It’s not like I only play in state and national level tournaments. Look at my international performance; I should get help. The HODs of these departments have the power to help under special cases. Still, nothing happens. They say it’s a non-Olympic sport and I play under the handicapped category. They say if something works out they will inform me. This is how they absolve themselves from helping me”.
Inspite of being neglected by the officials, Verma has managed to get helping hand from good Samaritans who have chipped in with funds every time an international competition is around the corner. The arm-wrestler said he hopes that someday the state government will listen to his pleas and grant him a permanent job in order to secure his and his family’s future.