Paralympic javelin champion Sumit Antil has rounded off an amazing 2021 by figuring in the award-winning official podcast of the International Paralympic Committee, in partnership with Allianz - A Winning Mindset- Season Two.
Full podcast here
Antil, who shot to fame with a gold at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, in a free-wheeling talk, gave an insight into his life following the success.
"I just want to like, hit a very big mark in my life, and show the world that we are not disabled. We are differently-abled and we can do everything in our life that we want to do," said Antil, who hails from Sonipat in Haryana district.
Now settled in India's capital, New Delhi, Antil went on to reveal his hitherto untouched aspects of life; about how he was totally shattered after the accident at 16 and, how his mother and friend Mohit helped put his life back on the track.
"I was just seven when I lost my father, and, I belong to a middle-class family and was not financially stable. But my mother always made sure that I had all the facilities. At the age of 16, I met with an accident and learned that I lost a leg. I stayed at the hospital for 53 days and, all 53 days, my mother stayed with me. She motivated me from time to time.
"I just can't even explain the struggles that she had. You know, a lady who lost her husband when her son is like seven years. And when he was 16-17, met with an accident and lost his leg. I can't even express, what she has gone through mentally,” reminisced the 23-year-old, who admitted that it was a challenge to come to terms with what had happened and the reaction of his relatives, family friends and neighbours was demotivating.
“After I came home, people were looking at me, you know, differently. They were staring at my legs and saying that 'his life is ruined'. My mum was completely broken. And I just said to my mum that I will run one day. I just didn't want to demotivate her. I just wanted to motivate myself as well as my family.
"But nowadays I feel proud. I see the pride in her (mother’s) eyes and that's the main thing for me. I just want to make her happy," said Antil, who until his accident was a budding wrestler.
"The next day (after the accident), I realised that I (have) lost my leg and I just cried one day. You can imagine the first thought that came to my mind 'I (have) lost my leg, and I can't be a wrestler’. I couldn't imagine my life without wrestling. After getting the prosthetic limb, I just went to the stadium and, I just wanted to try wrestling again. But due to the limited movement of the knee, I couldn’t and then I was completely broken. I just wanted to do a nine to five job,” recalled Antil who found support and is indebted to his friend Mohit for what he has achieved today.
PILLAR OF STRENGTH
"Mohit is my childhood friend, and we were classmates in school. And when he learned about my accident, he quit his job as a merchant navy officer to be by my side. He said ‘I'm with you, you can do whatever you want’. And he kept motivating me since past two years and has helped in my game as well. When I feel tired, he becomes my physio. He became a masseur to me. Not once did he feel ashamed that he was pressing my legs and hands. When I throw the javelin during training, he brings it back to me and says, 'Throw it again and throw it with perfect technique'," revealed Antil, asserting that his journey to success has not been just about ‘me’.
"I learned a thing that on the road to success, there is always ‘we’, not ‘me’. Whenever I see Mohit I feel blessed that I have a friend like him. He has completely lost his career, just because of my career. And I'll make sure that he will live a good life now because he lost his dream to make my dream come true. He has a dream that I become a World Champion and Paralympic Champion.
He just wanted to make my life stable and now I will make his life stable," vowed Antil, who feels blessed that his friends have ensured he never faced discrimination like other disabled people.
"Actually, I'm blessed with my friends. I have a limited number of friends, but, they are like brothers to me and the way they supported me is incredible. And the way my family supported me is incredible. My mother wanted to do everything that she could do for my financial stability, mental stability, and she's a blessing for me."
"A few days ago, I received the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award from the Government of India - that's the biggest award in sports and when my mother was there and she was feeling proud that I got it from the President of India. I felt proud. I just felt that I had done something big in my life, that my mum is feeling proud."
POWER OF SPORTS
Antil also spoke about the mental strength he achieved through sports.
"Sports completely helped me in my mental health, like, when I work out, I just feel relaxed and that I have done something. And I'm aiming for some big things. I won a National Championship in March 2021. And we had like six months of training heading into the biggest competition (Paralympics) I can ever have.”
Antil has now set sight on throwing the javelin past the 80-metre mark.
"I feel that I can touch the 80-metre mark easily. I don't know why, but I just feel that I can do it. I just want to increase this record (68.55m) as far as I can. I'm just working on my technique now and I'm doing basic things that I couldn't do in the past.”