Teenager Dalip Gavit has only participated in one para-athletics tournament in his fledgling career. The 18-year-old, whose right arm is amputated below the elbow, believes that the level of competition in the para championships is not up to his standards.
“It’s too easy for me. There is no fun in winning there, ”Gavit explains clearly. It may sound like Gavit is an overconfident youngster, but that’s far from true. The Maharashtra athlete strongly believes that this kind of confidence and resilience is needed to compete with non-disabled athletes in open events.
At the 400m national championships in Delhi, Gavit reached the Under-20 final finishing second in his heat with 49.89 seconds on the clock. He was very disappointed to have finished fifth in the Under-20 race in 49.85 seconds. “My finish was not good. As soon as I get home I’ll watch my video and ask my coach how to improve my pace in the last 100 meters, ”said Gavit, who led the field for the first 200 meters of the race on Tuesday.
Gavit, who won four medals nationally in open competitions, aimed to finish in under 48 seconds. If he had, the runner from Maharashtra would have walked away with gold around his neck. ” He is able. He is really talented and I know he will reach the mark soon, ”said his coach and goalkeeper Vaijnath Kale.
Gavit says his right arm had to be amputated when he was about four years old after he was injured after falling from a tree. “My parents took me to an Ayurvedic practitioner instead of a real hospital. They just applied medicine and bandaged my arm, ”he says.
But things got worse as the wound became more infected and septic, and by the time professional help was finally sought, it was too late. “If my parents had gone to a good doctor in the first place, they could have saved my arm,” Gavit said, shaking his head.
Gavit, still passionate about running, began participating in events at the school level and gradually progressed. Nasik-based coach Vaijnath spotted young Gavit during a local meeting about six years ago. “I’ll be honest. It wasn’t like he was a big runner back then and I didn’t see something special in him. I just wanted the young kid to have a fair chance in the sport, and that could only happen with good formal training, ”said coach Kale.
When Coach Kale approached Gavit’s parents, they only had one condition. “They asked me if I could cover all of his expenses and then I could train him. I accepted, ”says Kale, who“ adopted ”Gavit.
Gavit now remains with Coach Kale’s family in Nasik. “My man has two children and now I am like the eldest son. Coach sir is everything for me. I trust him blindly. If he asks me to quit the race and try to jump, I will do it without asking a question, ”says Gavit, who gets a little emotional as he talks about his mentor.
Coach Kale, a former company employee, trains around 25 children at his academy in Nasik. Gavit is the only athlete who stays with him in his residence. “I do this for the love of the sport. I wish I had had someone guide me when I was an athlete, ”Kale says.
For Gavit, who doesn’t own a cell phone, doesn’t have social media accounts, doesn’t like watching TV, life revolves around athletics. He says he won’t rest until he wins a Paralympic medal for the country. But will he continue to participate in open competitions?
“Sure. That’s where the real fun is. I don’t consider myself disabled. In fact, I’m in no way inferior to other athletes,” says Gavit.
Gavit’s run even caught the attention of 400m head coach Galina Bukharina. “I had a runner in America like him. He had an implant (with a prosthetic hand) and his timings improved dramatically. If this boy can find a sponsor who can help him with that, trust me, he will go much faster, ”said the seasoned coach.