Among his many achievements, the Naib Subedar now counts a bronze medal in the 200-metre running category at the ongoing Asian Para Games in Indonesia. With the win, Gunasekaran has improved upon his previous performance from 6th place to a podium finish on Tuesday. He finished the race in 24.45 second.
Gunasekaran participated in a category that applies to those with impairment in foot, ankle and/or lower leg. However, the athletes compete without prosthesis.
Speaking with TOI over the phone from Jakarta, Anandan said, “It’s a special moment for me as I won the first medal at the Asian Para Games. In 2014, despite preparing hard, I could not achieve the podium finish. The failure had been hurting me but I continued working hard. Eventually, the hard work has paid off.” To prepare better for the competition, Gunasekaran shifted to the newly established para node at Bombay Engineering Group and Centre (BEG & C). Later, he practised at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) for a few weeks before leaving for Jakarta.
“Scientific training along with excellent facilities at the ASI and para node have helped me prepare for the competition and improve my performance,” Gunasekaran added.
Recalling the days that followed immediately after the mine blast, Gunasekaran said, “I was first treated at a Srinagar-based hospital and later shifted to the Artificial Limb Centre (ALC) where I happened to read about Oscar Pistorius. That story changed my outlook toward life and I decided to pursue the sport.”
It was his win in the 2.5km category of the Mumbai Marathon in 2012 that helped get support from his seniors, who then provided an advanced blade to help him run better.
Gunasekaran attributes his success to his wife, “She has helped me a lot to maintain my diet. In fact, sometimes she is more strict about the diet than I am,” he quipped.