Alam scripts a primary for India

In the SM5 200m individual medley, Aalam was the first to qualify for the World Championships.

Swimming came naturally to a Mohammad Shams Aalam Shaikh, who was born in the unremarkable village of Rathaus in the Madhubani region of Bihar, since the world was prone to flooding during the monsoon. Surrounded by rivers – the Kamla in the east and the Dhauns and Bachraja of Nepal’s Adhwara group of rivers that flow into the state in the west – every child in Rathaus, just 30 kilometres south of the India-Nepal border, learns to swim as a survival skill at a young age.

Nonetheless, Aalam was keen to choose akhara over the pool, owing to a strong wrestling tradition in the family. He was on his way to realising his dreams with strong karate performances when life threw him on the mat. In 2010, he was diagnosed with a spine tumour that left him immobile below the chest. The thought of not being able to walk or control his body was unbearable. Then his life came full circle when he was introduced to swimming once more as a rehabilitation and physiotherapy strategy for a paraplegic individual.

After wading through the troubled waters of life, Aalam has now become the first paraplegic SM5 class swimmer from India, aside from Bihar, to formally qualify for the 200M individual medley event at the 2022 World Para Swimming Championships, which will be held in Madeira, Portugal, from June 12 to 18. With two gold medals and a sliver at the National Para Swimming Championship in Udaipur from March 23-26, he had made the cut for the Worlds, but had to wait until Monday, when the swimming world body formally validated his qualification for the event.

“Firstly, I wish to thank myself for not giving up in any scenario and persevering with to attain this objective. Secondly, I wish to specific my deep gratitude to Dr VK Dabas, chairman, Para Swimming, Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), Rajaram Ghag sir, Sanjay Bist sir, Paralympic Committee of Bihar, World Para Swimming, SAI Gandhinagar, Bal Swavlamban Belief and Hella India Automotive Pvt Ltd. Thirdly, I wish to thank all of the passers-by who met me on this journey, my members of the family, buddies, well-wishers, lifeguards at totally different swimming pools, public bus officers of DTC, Gurugram, Paraplegic Basis, Sathyabama College, who at all times encourage me,” Aalam mentioned.

Aalam is presently based in Gandhinagar, after being selected as one of 17 para swimmers in an open selection trial held by the Sports Authority of India in Gandhinagar in February of this year. Following the Nationals in Udaipur, Aalam trained in SAI’s Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Swimming Pool Advanced in Delhi, often known as Talkatora pool, before moving to Gandhinagar on April 15.

“In Talkatora (Delhi) I used to be paying payments from my pocket for every thing – the apply facility, meals and lodging, commute and all. Right here I need not pay a single penny as every thing is taken care of by SAI. That is an enormous aid for a middle-class particular person like me. Now I can focus solely on apply to carry glory for my nation,” mentioned the mechanical engineering graduate.

Aalam is a global gold medalist in Para Swimming and holds the world record for the longest open sea swimming by a paraplegic individual. He has also represented India in the Asian Para Video Games, which were held in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018.

Aalam, on the other hand, isn’t just a sportsperson who is satisfied with achieving success in his chosen sport. The 35-year-old Bihar native, who moved to Mumbai’s Dharavi for higher education when he was a child, continues to fight for disability inclusion and accessibility. Apathy in direction of Para sportspersons by his native state pains Aalam as he concludes saying, “It is disheartening to not get any recognition from my native state Bihar. There’s discrimination in services in addition to prize cash for Para and able-bodied athletes. I’m not asking for any favour however no less than deal with us as equals, respect us.”