Shining glory: Amol Boriwale with his medals in Jamshedpur last month
Sometimes a champion’s score is an unbelievable win of mind over matter. Sample this: nine pellets in body, 15 medals in kitty.
Someone propels Amol Boriwale’s wheelchair forward. He hauls the heavy recurve bow on his shoulder, his eyes fixed on the aim and shoots.
Dhanbad archer Puja Kumari can learn a thing or two on pluck from the 29-year-old from Maharashtra, who was in Jharkhand to participate at the 32nd Sahara Senior (Recurve and Compound) National Archery Championship in Jamshedpur in the last week of January.
A paratrooper with 116 Territorial Army, Amol was caught in a claymore explosion during a mine clearing demonstration at Rajouri, Jammu and Kashmir, in December 2006.
The paratrooper became a paraplegic with nine pellets in his body, losing the use of his legs and spinal cord.
“I was treated at the Referral Research Military Hospital, New Delhi. In 2008, I was declared invalid. In 2009, I chose archery over a life of moping. Today, I am trying to find a future in Paralympics,” Amol told The Telegraph.
The triumph of will was not easy. The nine pellets embedded in his body — two in the spinal cord — are a permanent reminder of the mishap.
“The ones in the lower vertebra cause pain when I relieve myself. Those in my arm, shoulder and legs are okay. I carry on with life,” Amol said.
Which he does in style as the reigning Paralympics national champion, getting medals along the way.
At the Jamshedpur archery tourney, he pocketed four medals — a gold, a silver and two bronze — to the amazement of fellow players, mentors and the audience.
“Archers stand straight to take aim. But Amol has to lean sideways in his wheelchair to aim, which puts great pressure on his abdomen. Yet, while he is doing so, you will never find him grimacing. He is completely focused on the bullseye,” said coach Vilas Davane, also the founder member of Paralympic Archery Federation of India, who was instrumental in encouraging Amol in the sport.
“I attended a 50-day archery camp in 2009 at his insistence,” smiled Amol, who stays at the Paraplegic Rehab Centre, Pune.
He donned the India jersey for World Paralympic Games (Bangalore, in 2009), Asian Para Games (Guangzhou, China, in 2010), Asian Para Archery Championship (Bangkok, in 2011) and the World Para Archery Championship (Turin, Italy, in 2011). He has bagged 15 medals in senior national para-archery meets.
“I’m eyeing an international medal, obviously. And I want to become the reigning world Paralympics champion,” he grinned.