Allow us to introduce to you a man who never let his health, his disabilities or his background come in the way of winning several medals in various international para athletic events including bronze medals at the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games (1.86m) and the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships (1.77m). A proud Para high jumper hailing from Greater Noida, UP, Varun Bhati’s exceptional athletic talents were recognized when he was just a young lad in school. He enjoyed playing basketball and was always a lover of sports until he found his true calling, the challenging ‘high jump’, in 2010.
Turning His Disability into Durability
However, success didn’t come easily to Varun. At just the tender age of 6, Varun was diagnosed with poliomyelitis. But this didn’t stop Varun from fueling his love for sports. He was classified with a T-42 disability and received attention in 2012 when he registered the ‘A’ qualification mark for the 2012 Summer Paralympic Games in London with a stellar performance of 1.60m. However, owing to limited slots available to India, he failed to qualify for 2012 Games. But Varun was determined to keep his eye on the ball.
Varun then went on to participate in the 2014 Asian Para Games in Korea where he stood 5th. He won a gold medal at the 2014 China Open Athletics Championship in the same year. In 2015, he stood 5th again at the 2015 Para World Championship in Qatar. He 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. It was finally in 2016 when he recorded his personal best to attempt and successfully finished a jump of 1.86m at the Summer Paralympic Games.
Varun owes a great deal of his success to his fantastic coach and mentor since 2014, Mr. Satyanarayana, a former national athlete himself. Varun is also supported by the GoSports Foundation through the Para Champions Programme. He currently trains at the Sports Authority of India in Bangalore. Varun’s family was always supportive of him and knew what sports meant to him. They always kept him away from the pressure while making sure to never stand in his way of achieving his dreams. Varun being the eldest son was not expected to shoulder the responsibilities of the family and was thus able to focus all his efforts and energy on sports and achieving his goals.
When asked who his biggest inspiration is, Varun replies very straightforwardly, “Myself”, and rightly so. Why draw inspiration from anyone and anything else when you have a strong mind, a heart full of fiery passion and legs of steel! He aims at wearing the gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics around his neck.
Your willpower will determine whether you will win or lose!! Keep it firm!! Believe in yourself!! Nothing is impossible! Believe me, this is true! Keep achieving. Be humble no matter where you reach. Be kind to people even if they can’t repay your kindness!”
Varun signs off on a truly bold, awe-inspiring and moving note, especially to all those out there who have dreams of rising against all odds and who’ve heard the words “you can’t” –
“Your willpower will determine whether you will win or lose!! Keep it firm!! Believe in yourself!! Nothing is impossible! Believe me, this is true! Keep achieving. Be humble no matter where you reach. Be kind to people even if they can’t repay your kindness!” In an imperfect and dark world like ours, it’s deeply heartening to see people like Varun look past their disabilities, see the light and go for the gold – literally! In the words of the late Muhammad Ali, World Heavyweight Champion boxer – “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”