New Delhi: Indian para-athlete Varun Singh Bhati, who clinched the bronze medal in the men's high jump T-42 event at the Rio Paralympics, faced a lot of hardships before achieving the historic feat.
Bhati jumped his personal best of 1.86 metres to finish third at the quadrennial extravaganza on Friday night.
The 21-year-old, who trains at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru, is suffering from a T-42 disability. This is a disability classification in the sport for differently-abled track-and-field athletes with single ‘above the knee' amputations or a comparable disability.
He was first spotted by St Josephs School, Greater Noida from where he did his schooling. His talent was further nurtured by Satyanarayana, a former national athlete.
Bhati, who is a resident of Greater Noida, came into the limelight in 2012 when he registered the `A` qualification mark for the 2012 Paralympics in London with a performance of 1.60m.
However, due to limited slots available to India, he failed to make the cut for London 2012.
He was also part of the Indian team for the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon (South Korea) where he finished fifth. The same year he won a gold medal at the 2014 China Open Athletics Championship.
In 2015, he took the fifth position again at the 2015 Para World Championship in Doha (Qatar), where he performed better than other established Indian para high jumpers such as H.N. Girisha and Sharad Kumar.
Enhancing his reputation as India's leading para high jumper, Varun recorded a jump of 1.82m at the 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championship where he won a gold as well as set a new Asian record.