Standing in the face of adversity is the true test of one’s character and Virender Singh is a living example of that.
The man cannot hear or speak, but that has not stopped him from becoming a wrestler. His success speaks for itself – 7 international medals in 7 different events.
Sadly, Virender’s plight is such that despite all the hard work he has put in, his financial condition is such that he cannot afford a house. The 31-year-old ignored for top sporting honours and cash awards for much of his career. Even though the Deaflympics and Paralympics are both sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, he has not been in the thick of things from the Government. The Paralympic Sports Movement has got support with awards at all levels for para-athletes. However deaf athletes have been ignored meaning the likes of Virender Singh are pushed into the background and find themselves in a financially difficult position. It is indeed a national shame for us.
Virender has had a tough journey till now. As a kid, he was bullied for his handicap and took up wrestling at a very young age as a distraction.
His first mark on the international scene was winning gold at the 2005 Deaflympics. Two more golds came in the 2013 and 2017 editions. There is also a bronze to his credit in 2009. In addition to this Virender has won gold, silver and bronze at the world championships. Seven medals is no mean feat, seriously what more does he need to do to come to the Government’s attention for some aid?
Not only that, but a documentary has also been made on his life – Goonga Pehelwan (Mute Wrestler).
In 2015, Virender received the Arjuna Award. But even such accolades have not been enough for him to find a place to stay.
At the end of the day, it is the country which should look after the athletes. While we are busy cheering on the cricketers, athletes like Virender get pushed to the background.
One only hopes the message reaches the ears of those in question. After all, this man and many like him deserve better. They certainly earned that much, if not more