In the recently concluded Rio Olympics cash awards were granted to shuttler P V Sindhu, gymnast Dipa Karmakar and Sakshi Malik for their splendid performance. Even brand marketers of India rooted for them. But history has it, this isn’t how it was a couple of years ago.
Sakshi, Sindhu and many others became millionaires with one win, but there was no such windfall for Kaushlendra Singh who despite bringing international recognition to India, survives today on his monthly pension of Rs 300.
Many people may not even remember this 51 years old former athlete, but when he was 16, he won three gold medals at the International Abilympics in Tokyo in 1981 for 1,500m, 100m wheelchair race and 100m hurdles.
In 1982 Far East & South Pacific games in Hong Kong, Singh won a silver and a bronze.
This was a time when athletes were used, then neglected and forgotten. Even though Kaushlendra Singh won several other medals at national and international level and brought glory to India, he was discarded when he needed the nation. Today, he survives on a meagre pension of Rs 300 a month. For many years, he has vainly pleaded with the state government to grant him financial help as he is heavily dependent on his younger brother.
Kaushlendra lives at his ancestral home near Shahjahanpur with his brother Teerthraj. He feels desperate when he sees Paralympics medalists get recognition nowadays, while he has had to struggle for 20 years.
Politicians use his name for publicity and promise him financial aid during elections, but nothing reaches him.
He feels with his skills he will be able to help other athletes with special abilities, provided he is given the opportunity.
But for now, Singh has lost all hope.