New Delhi: Amit Kumar, who won a silver medal at the recently concluded IPC Athletics World Championships, today said equal respect needs to be accorded to both able-bodied and para-athletes for para-sports to improve.
"We don't want sympathy, but respect. The society needs to change its way of seeing us para-athletes. We perform at world class levels and bring medals for our country. Our medals should also be considered with high regard so that we are motivated and win more medals," said Asian record holder Amit during a felicitation fucntion here which was attended by Minister of State for Defence and President of Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) Rao Inderjit Singh.
"Until the medals of para-athletes are considered as equal to medals of able-bodied athletes, para-sports won't improve," he said.
Amit, who won a silver in the men's club throw F51 event at Doha, cited German amputee long jumper Markus Rehm's example to highlight the spirit and competitiveness of para-athletes.
"Markus Rehm jumped a record 8.40 m in the Doha World Championships while the able-bodied 2012 London Olympics gold medal winner jumped 8.31 m. We compete with the best at the highest levels. Paralympics are very tough," the Arjuna Awardee said.
Rao Inderjit Singh, who was last month elected as the PCI President, said he is working towards getting government recognition for the federation again.
"Due to some issues PCI got derecognised. First, the Indian government needs to recognise then the international body. We are working on fixing it," the minister said.
"Our target is to win more medals in next year's Paralympic Games in Rio de Janerio. We are trying to send atleast 10 para-athletes to Rio," he added.
Others who were felicitated were Tarun Tarun, who won a gold in singles and silver in doubles at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships in September, Rakesh Pandey, who won a silver in the mixed doubles at the same event, and Para-sports coach and Dronacharya awardee Naval Singh.