This divyang athlete wins gold medal at the National Powerlifting Championship held at Surat


Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], March 29: ‘I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always achieve my objective,’ says American singer Jimmy Dean. It will take some time, but you will eventually arrive at your destination. Meet Ashok Kumar Parmar, 35, a divyang (disabled) who just proved Dean correct by winning a gold medal in the 56 kg weight category at the National Powerlifting Championship held recently in Surat.

Ashok, who works in the logistics department of the Adani Group in Ahmedabad, competed in the open category, which also included specially-abled athletes and transgender people. “When I was just a year old, I was given the improper shot and became infected with the poliovirus, which crippled my left leg.” However, I have always tried to focus on the positive and have never let my impairment get in the way of my dreams. “I work twice as hard to attain them.”

“It is not always simple for disabled people like myself to transition from a mid-sized company to an MNC.” The personnel here, on the other hand, has been nothing but pleasant and helpful, and they have welcomed me with open arms. Working in such an environment has also allowed me to devote my complete attention to my sports since my senior has been very supportive of my goals and has always pushed me to work more.”

From using sports as a means to channel his anger and frustration to winning gold medals, the tale of this 35-year-old disabled sportsman is truly an inspiration for all.

When Ashok was two years old, his family relocated to Ahmedabad from their native hamlet in Gujarat’s Mandva for better medical and educational opportunities. “I never liked being labeled as disabled, and I was never permitted to do things like everyone else.” People discouraged me from riding a bicycle when I was younger and insisted on riding a tricycle for the disabled whenever I visited my village. But, despite all odds, I learned to ride a bicycle. I fell on a variety of terrain, from rocky roads to thorny bushes, and was injured, but I never gave up on my aim. I was soon riding a bicycle. “I now commute from my home to work on a two-wheeler every day, which takes about 2-3 hours,” Ashok says.

Hailing from a financially backward income group, he chose to begin his training at a government gym rather a fancy one. “The training I got there has helped me immensely, even till this date. The first three months I was only given body-weight exercises and later slowly began training with the equipment,” adds Ashok.

Around 2014, his peers at the gym encouraged him to participate in a body-building competition in the 50 kg weight category, where he stood first. “In 2016-17, I started to learn about powerlifting and started participating in championships. Since then, I have won bronze, silver, and gold medals,” adds an elated Ashok.

But Ashok isn’t looking at slowing down after his recent win. He’s gearing up to win many more prestigious competitions. However, things still aren’t easy for him. “I live in a joint family and my family is my priority. So, investing money in training, supplements and other necessities is still not a feasible option. I have been training on my own for all the championships so far and often would turn to friends and their trainers who have been associated with powerlifting for years now. I don’t consume any supplements and my intake of extra proteins – chicken and eggs happen once in 2-3 weeks,” adds Parmar.