Blessing in Disguise – The man who defines it… The story of Bihar’s High Jumper Sharad Kumar
1st March 1992
Proudly says ‘imd1’ for
A wave of energy and optimism! That"s what makes Sharad Kumar, the 25 year old lad to live life on his terms and conditions and live it to the fullest. In spite of a major challenge right at the peak of his career Sharad Kumar’s go-getter attitude did not let him stop.
Team imd1 was impressed with his triumphs moving by leaps and bounds. Read on to know his jumps and moves…
We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?
The journey began back in 1995. I was admitted to a boarding school in Darjeeling. Right through my childhood I was surrounded by sports lovers. I was in St Paul School where we were able to understand to maintain the balance between studies and sports, as both were treated with importance. There was no bias between abled and differently abled. I think that gave me new strength to take upon a challenge, as I was the only physically challenged student. I learnt to survive the battle of hardships with the kind of support there.
Quote for Life
Discard superstition and put in the real hard work!
Roger Federer, Shah Rukh Khan
All para athletes are inspiring
Food I love
Food I hate
I cannot hate food
Had I not been Athlete then…
Like Vacations at
Favorite Past time
Researching International Relationship
“Bond! James Bond”...(wink) no a serious note, my own dialogue - “Let"s get started, All”
The last Samurai
Talking of my passion for high jump, it began one day in school where I wasn"t allowed to run because of my disability. To pass my time, I used to watch the jumpers there and felt I could do it too. Gradually, I developed a passion and a liking for high jump. And my brother too is a high jumper and got a lot of accolades as a high jumper in school. My friends were discouraging me for health concerns. But I used to practice alone and once, I insisted to participate in High Jump at School competition. I was able to Jump over the bar which not many were able to. Later I wanted to go ahead with High Jump training but School authorities were not sure on whether I should continue. My brother walked up to me and told everyone that he would take my responsibility and that I would continue with high jump. I almost won all competitions and then my teacher of Grade 4, ‘Mr. Denis’ informed me about Paralympics and I got admission in Modern School, Barakhamba Road, Delhi which is famous for sports. Since then, there"s no looking back!
What’s your success mantra?
Personally I feel success cannot have a formula, and for me it"s always been hard work and I strongly believe in pursuing it. The more you work hard to achieve a goal, the more confident you become and there will be no obstacles, since you will be prepared to face any hurdle with a smile and get through it, reaching towards your goal.
What were the hardships / hurdles you encountered and the way you overcame in your journey?
To be frank, the only hardship/ hurdle that came my way was the incident where I was framed into doping. That was a real and the only hardship I had faced. Apart from that, all the institutes and the people around me were always supportive. Right from my graduation at Delhi University or even at JNU, I never really had to come to terms with hurdles of any sort. But the perplexities of being framed into doping by my fellow athletes led to my ban for the consecutive two years. In that phase, I was all broken, because that was the time when I could have won Gold for the nation and become a world champion. Somewhere down the line, it always pricks me as once something is lost; it"s lost and doesn’t come back.
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
One can only succeed in life after tasting failures else there is no success as such! I firmly believe that once a person fails to achieve something, he/she should try taking another leap by giving it one more shot. Once you set forth your eye to succeed in something, you will want to keep trying harder to be able to witness it. That is the only way to overcome failures. You need to just keep trying. Before the London Paralympics incident occurred, I was also living in a fantasy. After the incident, it was difficult for me to bounce back. I just diverted my energies to keep moving further towards a rebound and improve my game at high jumping. That is how I dealt with my set of failures.
Do you think Athletics and its learning’s can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
The whole purpose of sports in the world was to burst health hazards. To my knowledge, just 1% compared to the extravaganza of even Olympic Games is sufficient to be spent on health preservation. Physical fitness activities don’t cost you money but save the expenses of being unhealthy. Career apart, each individual needs to practice athletics for his/her own health.
Who has been your influencer in this journey & how?
I appreciate individuality over influentiality! I have always done things that made me feel content with the way my life is shaping. As such there is no particular influencer in person.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I am the 1”?
I think I can call each moment of my life to be that moment where I feel I am the 1 to go get the Gold and I can do that by only believing that “I am the 1” [smiles!!!]
Are there any prerequisites like age, fitness or a mindset required to pursue fencing?
Just like any sport, one should start young and I would say that children should start training around the age of 7. One needs to do correct exercises to keep the body fit and concentrate on coordination. Most of all, one needs passion a deep respect for the sport.
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
used to go to Jawaharlal Nehru stadium for practice. There is nothing particular about high jump coaching. However, my formal training as a para-athlete began under Coach Nikitan Uffgan at Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bangalore. He was appointed as our mentor for the Olympic and I have been training under him since.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Athletics?
Yes, of course if you want to achieve in athletics, you need a good coach who guides and trains you correctly. Someone who can boost you and inject you with optimism and instills confidence in you to believe that what you"re doing is right. Someone who would work harder each day to set you on a go getter path can only be derived if he has been there and done that...
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
According to me, right from the start you need to have keen interest. There cannot be age bars that restrict one from liking what they want to do, the age doesn"t really matter. Like, one can be an athlete at the age of 52 too! And that"s the real beauty of it. Age is just a number. You enjoy it and that’s the right age & stage!
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru’ for getting formal training for Athletics?
At any point of time, if you become stagnant for 3 months, it’s time for you to change because as Steve Jobs rightly said, ”If there"s no change in your life for three months, then there is no progress”. We all need some kind of change in our lives, and the people who get that change in you, you should never change them!!!
Ideally, a mentor should bring changes in your pattern for further progress and I’m grateful that I found a Guru in Nikitan at SAI, Bangalore to bring in positive changes.
What according to you can be a scope for improvement in training for Athletics in India?
As athletes, it is critical that we change our own mindset to start with. For some, it"s only a way to get a job which is not right. As far as scope of improvement in training is concerned, I feel people are more interested in doping to mince money, which is really sad. It is been widely followed and surprisingly some coaches even encourage it. Not to forget, people get up at 4 am to start training, I mean who does that? And why do that? Don’t misunderstand, but one needs sound sleep and it is vital to enjoy your training. Training organizers need to keep this in mind.
What do you suggest for better accessibility of Athletics in remote parts of India?
India is a diverse country and we may find athletes all around. The government policies need to be structured in a uniform way where athletes’ performance is enhanced and likewise a good athlete should get good facilities to achieve finesse. Government support could bring a remarkable change.
In your opinion, what are the basic key traits apart from formal training that make “imd1”?
Whenever someone says I am the one, it reminds of the Justin Bieber song [laughs]. Jokes apart, to be the one, you have to prove yourself. It cannot simply happen if you are not putting your heart and soul and pondering the hard work and dedication to be the “One” and be a step ahead.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
Parents, please do not treat your child as a pet. Our children are human beings and nature has made humans capable enough to handle harsh conditions.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down memory lane…
I wish my parents were more educated since I am not very adaptive to narrow thinking. I love them immensely… They are great people and amazing parents but certain things only a formal education can instill you with. So yeah!
How can one identify & encourage talent in the family?
Every individual is destined to do the right thing at the right time at the right place. It will be wrong to say that one can identify talent, since we all are made to do something we are good at. Especially parents are concerned about their children"s career. I would want to tell them to let your kids do what they want to. Eventually they will land up at places they are meant to be. Keep faith in your kids and be supportive of their doings.