What's up at SMS?

Updated: Apr 12, 2020, 07:38 IST | Harit N Joshi | Mumbai

Nothing much except the Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Stadium in Jaipur is hosting world champ para javelin thrower Sundar Singh Gurjar in lockdown period to train for next year's Games in Tokyo

Sundar Singh Gurjar practises at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur during national lockdown
Sundar Singh Gurjar practises at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur during national lockdown

World champion para javelin thrower Sundar Singh Gurjar last visited his home in Rajasthan's Karauli district (approximately 100 kms from Jaipur) in 2018 after winning gold at the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. He was there only for an hour with his family.

When the nationwide 21-day lockdown was announced on March 24 with a four-hour notice as one of the measures to tackle the Coronavirus in India, Gurjar, 24, had the option of going to his village or staying put at his Jaipur house. However, the youngster decided to move to the Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Stadium.

Special permission

Gurjar has been at the stadium for the last 15 days following his request to the sports minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Chandna to live and train at the ground, was granted as a special case.

"I felt the safest place in these times is the stadium, where no one can come inside or go out. Since I am the only athlete here, I can completely concentrate on my training; the hostel facilities are top-class," Gurjar, who is staying with his friends Himmat Singh and Shyam Gurjar, told mid-day earlier this week.

His friends cook for him so as to maintain his diet and also help him carry the javelin. "If I had stayed locked down for 21 days at my home, I would have gone mad because for an athlete, it is important to hit the ground often. Since there was no clarity about how many days this lockdown would continue [beyond 21 days], I felt it was best to stay at the stadium, where my training would not be affected," he said.

Gurjar's training schedule is charted by his mentor, Mahavir Singh Saini. "My coach is constantly in touch with me over the phone from his village. I send him my videos after which he gives me some tips on improving my skills and technique," said Gurjar, who used to compete in normal events till 2015 before an accident led to the amputation of his left hand (below the elbow).

Gurjar, who secured his Tokyo Paralympics berth with a throw of 61.22m in the F46 event of the World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, has intensified his training for the Games which are now postponed to next year.

"I am working on my technique and muscle strength. I get up at 6am every day. As per schedule, I then practise throws or different jumps from 4 pm to 8 pm," said Gurjar, the only Indian with two World Championships medals (in 2017 and 2019). In the 2018 Para Asian Games at Indonesia, Gurjar clinched two medals.

He recently received the Arjuna award.

However, an Olympic medal is what he has been longing for ever since he missed out on participating at the 2016 Rio Paralympics despite him being in Brazil. He refuses to dwell on the issue which caused him to contemplate suicide. While that stays a mystery, his coach Saini should be credited for standing by him like a rock.

Eyeing medal in Tokyo

"I can never forget what happened with me there. It was gross injustice," was all Gurjar said about the mystery incident.

"I am using my Rio disappointment to win a medal in Tokyo now. I do miss my family at this time but when the target is to win an Olympic medal, nothing else matters," he signed off.

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