Thursday, November 26, 2015

Virender Singh: HRX Heroes with Hrithik Roshan

Image Courtesy: Facebook Page of HRX Brand
The story of Virender Singh in the 8th episode of HRXHeroes with Hrithik Roshan is a silent call to our government. We have so many talented sports personalities in our country. A few sports do get all the attention, support and sponsorship in our country, whereas some other sport is completely ignored. We have heard of many stories in the past in regard to different athletes or sports personalities, who have brought laurels for our country but got ignored by our own country. They had to fight their own battle. I may sound very harsh in writing this but the truth is that there is discrimination against various sports in our country. This story is a bit more different from the regular ones since he is deaf. His disability clubbed with his extraordinary talent of wrestling has earned him a new name: Goonga Pahalwan (The mute wrestler), though I completely disagree to address him so. It was destiny’s play that Virender was born as a deaf person, but does that make him inferior? Not at all. You would be amazed at his story also, who followed his dream of becoming one of the most successful wrestler our country has ever seen. But the question which remains to be answered is that is he getting the deserving support from our country, probably not. In spite of being a great athlete, why Virender has to face discrimination in comparison to his counterparts who are physically abled, it is a question which need to be pondered and acted upon. He may not speak or hear as we do, but he is a superior being in his talent to be one of the best, he can wrestle with all the odds to be the best. Here is the story of Virender Singh, a HRX Hero.

Virender Singh joined a school (from 1st standard onwards) meant for deaf and dumb in Delhi staying along with his uncle, Surender Kaka. He started learning the sign language. His uncle used to teach wrestling and that is how Virender took interest in this sport. He expressed his desire to learn wrestling.

Words of wisdom from Hrithik:  Two days of your life are important– first is when you are born and second is when you know ‘why’.

How inspiring philosophy of life. Virender also recognized the very purpose of his life, he understood why he was born. He knew, he was meant for wrestling.

Image Courtesy: Discovery Channel India's web page

Having a desire was not sufficient, it was just a beginning. Then started his journey to develop the right abilities to be a wrestler. His uncle started training him. Virender narrates using sign language in the HRX show that his uncle used to make him get up at 4AM for training. He said, how he used to get tired with the training and at times used to sleep in school. The training was very intense.

The training really helped him to get over the pain of not able to speak or hear and his desire to become wrestler was more.

Sadar Bazar Akhada became his training ground. His physical disability did not become a hindrance for him. He was able to defeat many abled-wrestlers in the ground. He dreamt of competing and exceling for the country. When he expressed his desire to participate in the national event to his uncle, he said how he could fight without being able to listen or speak. Uncle had the intuition that he would be disqualified not because he lacked the talent but because he was physically disabled. But Virender was so sure of himself that he responded by saying that hasn’t he taken same amount of training as his counterparts.

He went ahead to participate in Wrestling Federation of India’s selection contest. Virender Singh won all the wrestling matches, still, he was not allowed to represent India in international level due to his disability. The scene in the show, where he was denied even after winning, could move you. He felt helpless, was upset, he cried, and his heart was broken.

Virender is a real champion in himself, since he chose to get up even after falling. He made his anger his biggest strength, again started participating in local wrestling matches. He even fought with Susheel, one of the Olympic medal winner. He was exploited both inside and outside the akhada due to his physical limitation, since wrestling had become his passion.

An incident was quoted where he even was threatened by people. Though, at times, he got scared and sat at home away from wrestling, but the threats could not stop him from pursuing his dream and passion and he came back to the ring. He dreamt of wrestling for India but he was unable to get any opportunity due to his physical limitation.

That is when Paraolympics happened, and he thought to participate in the same. Although, he had to shell out money from his pocket itself for fulfilling this dream, he landed in Australia. Virender wanted to take this one shot. He won the Deaflympics Gold medal in 2005. After that, he has won many medals.

But did his story change anything in spite of winning these medals and bringing so much laurels to our country. I think, the days for athletes like him haven’t changed. Virender expressed in the show that he feels bad due to discrimination. He also feels bad that he is not getting the deserving support from our country, but he is determined to pursue his dream and continue his winning spree. He has good amount of support from his family who believes that he is indeed a very talented wrestler.

Despite winning so many medals, he has not got the opportunity to take part in regular Olympics. The sound of a whistle, being central to the game of wrestling, is the logic behind not qualifying him for the regular Olympics since he can’t hear the sound of the whistle. In International games, the referee pats on the back instead of regular whistle. Let us hope that Virender is able to fulfill his dream by getting to participate in Rio Olympics in 2016.

Cast: Gaurav Anand (12 year old Virender Singh), Aman Mehra (22 year old Virender Singh), Alka Mehta (Mother), Satyapal Gosain (Father), Yugant Bhadri Pandey (Surender Kaka), Rajesh Roy (Sarpanch), Vipin Dubey (Cousin brother), Vinod Pal (Negative Pahalwan), Pranav Kumar (brother 6 years), Manoj Dutt (Co-ordinator)

Meet another great HRX Hero, a real life hero Virender Singh. His story prompts us as citizens of India to ask ourselves, our system, our government: are we doing justice towards this great hero, who made our country proud? Are we even able to acknowledge this great hero? The situations and circumstances were against him, but did he succumb to them? No, rather, he had the courage, patience, and persistence to grow beyond all the situations, fight his way out to become one of the most talented athletes our country has even seen. Isn’t it cruel irony that he is being discriminated just because he has hearing disability whereas he has proved his mettle in the international arena. Let us hope that he gets to participate in Rio Olympics 2016. A grand salute to this HRX Hero: Virender Singh, who grew beyond his limitation to hear / speak to be the best wrestler.  

Watch its repeat telecast on Discovery Channel India on Sunday, 29th November, 2015 at 8PM.