- When he was just six months old, an incorrect medicine during polio, rendered him disabled. But his spirits could never be dampened. The Uttar Pradesh lad pursued high jump in the T-42 category.
- Though he couldn’t qualify for the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games due to limited slots, his talent was visible to all during the qualifiers. At the Incheon Para Asian Games, he finished at the fifth position.
- Finally, Varun got his much-deserved breakthrough at the China Open Athletics Championship. He won the gold there. From here on, there was nothing that could stop Varun.
- His sensational performance at the Rio Paralympics captured the imagination of the entire country. He was bestowed with the Arjuna Award by the government. Numerous cash prices followed as well.
- Varun continued his medal-winning streak with another bronze medal at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships.
- Now, Varun is all set to make us proud again at the Jakarta Para Asian Games.
Varun Singh Bhati – Life Story
Most of us tend to find excuses for our shortcomings. However, there are some champions who turn their shortcomings into their strength and achieve their dreams. Life is never easy. It will very difficult to understand someone else’s journey without getting into their shoes. Sometimes, reading about other people’s struggles and how they eventually overcame it can give hope to others.
Varun Singh Bhati’s journey from polio to Paralympics is exactly like that. He has and continues to inspire numerous people. Today we take a glimpse into his extraordinary life.
- Date of Birth: 13 February 1995
- Place of Birth: Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
- Parents: Hem Singh Bhati
- School: St Josephs School, Greater Noida
- Alma Mater: Maharaja Agrasen College
- Sport: Track and Field
- Event: High Jump T- 42
- Coach: Satyanarayana
Family members of bronze medal-winning Paralympian Varun Bhati say "we are very happy, he has made the nation proud" pic.twitter.com/bdZGCcbOUu
— ANI (@ANI) September 10, 2016
Born and brought up in Greater Noida, Varun always knew that he will achieve great heights in sports. His father, Hem Singh Bhati, is the sarpanch of their village. His mother is a homemaker. The entire family has supported Varun in all his endeavors.
“Instead of working at a 9 to 7 job I decided to pursue my passion. I will always thank my parents. They never forced me to only pursue studies and were open to my passion for sports” he told Republic World.
Early Days Of Varun Singh Bhati
Varun Singh Bhati was just six months old when he suffered Poliomyelitis. Due to an incorrect medicine by the doctor, he ended up with permanent disability in his leg. Varun did not let this deter him in any way.
He started playing basketball in school. Since he loved jumping, the transition to high jump was easy for him. Numerous times he has competed with able-bodied sportsmen. It was his focus and determination that has enabled him to achieve so much at such a young age.
He said, “Make sure you have a goal. Life without any goal is worthless. You should always be focused on your goal. Have faith in God and don’t stop until you achieve it! Life is too big to get disheartened at small failures,” in an interview with the Sportskeeda.
His talent was chiefly visible in the school itself. His school teachers supported him in initial years. Later, he started training under Satyanarayan and his technique improved a lot.
The T-42 Category
Varun Bhati participates in the T-42 category. The International Paralympic Committee defines the T-42 class in Paralympics as,
“Single above knee amputees and athletes with other impairments that are comparable to a single above knee amputation. This includes athletes with loss of muscle power in the lower limbs consistent with Class F57 or F58 class. It also includes lower limb affected by limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power or impaired range of movement.”
- All through his school years and even when he started competing internationally, Varun did not let sports affect his education. He has finely balanced studies and sports. His Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics (honors) is a testament to this fact.
- GoSports Foundation is supporting Varun through their Para Champion program. He is very thankful for their support. He is also a part of the government’s TOPS scheme.
- After his Rio feat, Varun was awarded a cash prize of Rs. 30 lakhs by the Sports Ministry. The encouraging government support, both financial and infrastructural, to parathletes is very encouraging.
- Varun is very close to fellow para-athletes Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar. Three of them train under the same coach, Satyanarayan and support each other during tournaments.
- After he won the Arjuna Award, he was felicitated by his school, St. Joseph’s. He gave a truly riveting speech to the students there. “I don’t want to give any inspirational speech today, because I’m sure you all will reach great heights anyway. I am here to ask you to take a pledge. I want to urge you to take up a sport. It does not have to be a career option, but take it up for your health and fitness. It could be any game – badminton, basketball, and athletics. And I’ll be looking forward to seeing more Arjuna Awardees from St. Joseph’s,” he was quoted by the Times of India.
- Varun continues to practice at his school every time he is in Noida. His school coach Manish Tiwary has played a crucial role in the early days of his career.
- Varun was a backbencher when he was in school! It is very good to see that Varun is still in touch with his teachers and school.
Journey Of Varun Singh Bhati
Varun participated in the qualifiers for the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games and made a mark with a jump of 1.60m. However, he couldn’t qualify due to the limited slots that were available. Finally, he got an opportunity to represent the country in 2014. He participated in the Incheon Asian Para Games but missed out on a podium finish. He stood 5th in the tournament. But the games gave him a lot of exposure.
“I sat in the stands of the stadium and cried a lot. I had all plans to quit at that moment. But I didn’t plan on giving up. As a result, in the coming games, I could achieve better results,” he told Republic World in an interview.
His first medal came in 2014. Nonetheless, it was a shiny gold medal! He won top honors at the China Open Athletics Championship. At the 2015 Para World Championship, he stood 5th once again. His jump of 1.82m at the IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championship catapulted him towards an Asian record. He won the gold in the 2016 edition of the tournament.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) September 22, 2016
Varun Singh Bhati At Rio Paralympics Games
The Rio Paralympics Games will always be special for Varun as he gave his personal best then. With a jump of 1.86 meters, he won the bronze. Another bronze came in the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships. Varun was apprehensive about his preparation for the tournament. However, he performed very well and his jump of 1.77 meters landed him on the podium. Moreover, fellow high jumper and friend, Sharad Kumar won the silver medal.
In an interview with The Times of India, Varun’s uncle Teekam Bhati said,
“He was nervous because he hurt his leg during the practice before the competition. Also, much of his time was spent in felicitations and he felt bad about missing practice as a result. He felt his preparation wasn’t at the same level as it had been for Rio. But all of us were confident that he would do well, and he has.”
Varun believes that training is the most important part of an athlete’s life. The hard work and will power shown during the training sessions reflects though his or her performance. He couldn’t be more right! The consistency Varun has shown throughout his career is commendable. Of course, he is very young and has a long way to go. The future is extremely bright for this rising star.
Even after his Rio feat, Varun continued training hard and has continuously set new goals for himself. This spirit will surely take him places. Disabilities can never stop those with strong minds.
The growing encouragement and support for our parathletes are so heartening. These sportsmen and women have time and again shown that their nerves are made of steel! Every athlete story is so inspiring! Words aren’t enough to praise them.
We are sure Varun and other athletes will surely make us proud at the Jakarta Para Asian Games!
|2016||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||T-42||Bronze|
World Para Athletics Championships
|London, United Kingdom||T-42||Bronze|
China Open Athletics Championships