Paving the Path: Para Powerlifting Champ Aims Beyond Medals
In the lush hills near Coonoor, the village of Gundada breathes with the hopes and dreams of around 30 resilient families. At its heart is V. Saravanan, a silver medalist in the Men’s 65-kg category at the 2023 Khelo India Para Games. Beyond his victories, Saravanan envisions a transformative journey for his village.
A Champion’s Origin:
Gundada, situated in Jegathala panchayat, has been grappling with the absence of road access for over three decades. Mostly home to daily wage laborers and plantation workers, this village has become the backdrop of Saravanan’s inspiring journey.
Neighbours and Strength:
Saravanan’s success isn’t just about powerlifting; it’s a testament to the strength of community bonds. Training for five years, he acknowledges the unwavering support of his neighbors. Their commitment shines through, as they carried him over 1.5 km to the nearest road for training sessions.
The challenges faced by the villagers of Gundada are daunting. A simple task like obtaining a pack of milk involves a three-kilometer trek through tea estates and forest areas. Basic amenities remain distant, casting a shadow over everyday life.
Medical emergencies compound the village’s difficulties, with ambulances unable to navigate the terrain. Vijayan, a villager, highlights heartbreaking incidents, emphasizing the urgent need for accessible healthcare.
Call for Intervention:
Saravanan and the villagers appeal to the Nilgiris district administration for intervention. Their plea is straightforward: convince local landholders to contribute land for a road. While most agree, a few demand excessive sums. Saravanan believes government intervention can bridge this gap, bringing much-needed connectivity to Gundada.
Beyond Medals, Beyond Roads:
As a government hostel warden, Saravanan’s commitment extends to the next generation. His experiences fuel his determination to spare the children of Gundada from the hardships he faced. Each interview becomes a platform to amplify the village’s plea for road access, hoping it reaches the ears of government officials.
In the valleys of Gundada, a silver medal echoes a resilient community’s call for change. Saravanan’s journey goes beyond powerlifting; it’s about unlocking opportunities and paving a brighter future for his village.