CV RAJANNA NARROWED HIS EYES and stared at the track ahead: he couldn’t afford to lose focus. Barely hours before, he had missed a gold medal in the 100-metre sprint by a mere 0.03 seconds. Now, he told himself, he would look neither right nor left. This time, he had 200 metres to cover. He stood leaning forward, waiting for the gunshot that would announce the start of the race.
At the shot, the athletes tore down the track. “My Indian teammates were cheering me on loudly,” Rajanna recounted when I met him in Bangalore in September, the month after the games. Rajanna took the lead at the start of the race and held it all the way to a victory, earning one of the four gold medals—apart from two silver—that he brought home from this year’s World Dwarf Games in Michigan, USA. The Indian contingent stood sixth in the medal tally with 21 medals in total, of which the three Bangalore athletes won 11.
“These days, people come up to me on the street and say, ‘Hey, aren’t you that sportsperson that appeared in the papers? Well done!’” said Rajanna, pumping an imaginary hand in front of him. Sitting in the office of the Paralympic Committee of India—the organisation responsible for selecting the contingent that goes to the World Dwarf Games—Rajanna and his fellow athletes from Bangalore, Renu Kumar and M Prakash, described their preparation for the games. “A month before the games, we start training in earnest, and the time spent on training increased a little,” said Renu Kumar. Prakash, a power-lifter and field athlete, quit his job as a laser engraving operator in Okalipuram to focus on his training. His normal routine, he said, involved hitting the gym for two hours, four days a week. “A month ahead of the games, I spent three hours extra in the evenings,” he said, patting his biceps. For Rajanna, who owns a printing company, and Renu Kumar, who works in the real estate business, training meant jogging and exercising for an hour every morning.