A boy of 10 years was so excited to water the cemented portion of their newly-constructed building that he did not notice that he was at the edge of the terrace. He lost balance and fell directly on live electric wires. He was out of his senses immediately and was rushed to the hospital. After being in coma for two months, he recovered, but by that time he had lost both his arms. The boy survived in this world and 16 years later Vishwas K.S wrote history by winning 3 medals at the Speedo Can Am Para-swimming Championships held in Canada.
“My father Satyanarayana Murthy was a clerk in the Agriculture Department. We had a very happy family where I was involved in all normal activities a child should be in. But life for us changed abruptly. On that fateful day, my father got electrocuted while trying to save me and he died. I survived through all the pain and came back home after almost 2 months. Life for me, at that juncture, was completely different. I was so small that I could sometimes even not realize what happened to me.”
The loss of the patriarch forced the family to move from their small town and settle in Bengaluru. Vishwas gradually came back to the mainstream by getting into his academics. But in school, he was a loner as other students often avoided him.
“It was indeed difficult. I wanted to play but had no friends. Actually in school, I faced this difficulty as boys were not so matured to understand my state of mind. But while in college, things changed. People were more matured there and they came all out to help me. Actually they were my inspirations to do something in life.”
Vishwas started realizing the fact that he had to overcome his disability. He finished his college by graduating in Commerce. With his friends’ initiation, he attended Kung Fu, dance and swimming classes. Initial days were quite tough as both teacher and the student were clueless about how to start. To practice Kung Fu, dance and swimming without hands was immensely different and so they had to put a whole lot of extra effort.
“During those days I remained frustrated. Though I was swimming, dancing….and people were also supporting me….I found myself to be totally mismatch in this society. I tried many jobs but could not stick to any one of them. My employers were not so kind and a simple mistake was often reprimanded hardly. At a time I was so devastated that I cut off from everyone in the society and spent days at home. But self-realization again dawned on me and I understood the need to step out, to face the world and to prove.”
Of all the activities, Vishwas found swimming to be the most challenging and so decided to practice it seriously. While in water, he used to get rid of all the negative thoughts and felt a happy sense of emancipation. Within 6 months he learnt the different strokes of swimming. But butterfly attracted him more.
“I don’t know why, but butterfly is my favourite stroke. Maybe, the structure of my body has helped me to adapt to that stroke completely.”
Vishwas began to take part in national competitions from 2014. It was around this time, he met Sunil Jain, the founder of Astha, an NGO working for para athletes. “He came to me and told his story. As my organization works with para athletes, it is not very difficult to understand the potential of an athlete. I saw him in the pool and was highly impressed by his determination. I started mentoring him personally,” recalls Sunil Jain.
Astha helped Vishwas in finding the right path to take his dream forward. The organization started funding him during competitions and also looks after his nutrition and diet. The contribution of Sunil Jain is vast in Vishwas’ life as the motivation he got from him helped to take his strides forward. In Canada, Vishwas broke all his psychological barriers to win silver medal in backstroke (100m) and breaststroke (100 m), and bronze in butterfly (50 m). Now, Vishwas’ dream is to compete in the Commonwealth Games and also in 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“Everyday is a new day. I live in present and enjoy it. There is no need for sympathy from others. We are normal, we are alive and we are capable of achieving many things.”