Sharad Kumar won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Paralympics in the F42 category of Men’s High Jump event on Tuesday by clearing 1.83m. Sharad started with a height of 1.73m and cleared 1.77m. He failed to clear 1.86m in his final attempt so he took bronze with his best attempt of 1.83m.
“My brother motivated me to be a high jumper. I broke all his records at school and it gave me the confidence to take the sport seriously. After St. Paul’s [school] I started training myself to be part of the national Paralympic team in Delhi,” he had said in an interview in 2014.
The 29-year-old Sharad Kumar is from Motipur in Bihar and competes in the F42 (lower limb competing without prosthesis) category of men’s high jump event. The world No.2’s training base is in Ukraine and his personal coaches are Nikitin Yevhen and Shallaz Kumar. Prior to his Tokyo Paralympics performance, he had won silver medals at World Para Athletics Championship 2017 and 2019. He is a two-time gold medallist of the Asian Para Games (2014, 2018) and his first gold medal was in Malaysian Open Para Athletics Championship 2012.
Sharad was struck by polio at the age of 2 and his parents took him to various hospitals in Chennai, Kolkata and Patna to try and cure him. They even took him to temples in hope but in the end, they began to treat him through regular body exercises. They even performed various poojas in faith for his survival when he would often get critically ill.
Sharad’s father Surendra Kumar wanted to raise his child like a normal kid and sent him to boarding school for education at the age of 4. Initially at school, Sharad was the only student who was not allowed to participate in athletics and was resigned to bench. While at the start he oblidged to the teachers, he eventually decided to participate in high jump regardless.
His interest in high jump came from watching his own brother who was a record holder in the school. He took it more seriously because he wanted to break his brother’s school record.
Sharad’s first international competition was Asian Para Games 2010 at Guangzhou, China after he won gold at the 6th Junior National Para-Athletics Championship in 2009. Sharad has received support from the government under the TOPS scheme since 2015.