Sent to orphanage at 8, how Narayan Thakur won para Asiad gold for India

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He was born with a disability, lost his father when he was eight and spent his next eight years at an orphanage. He was then forced to clean DTC buses and work as a waiter at roadside eateries in Delhi to earn a living after leaving the orphanage.
These adversities failed to deter Narayan Thakur from achieving the near-impossible – winning the gold medal (men’s 100m T35) in the just concluded Asian Para Games in Jakarta.
The story of the 27-year-old, who even lived for a while in a jhuggi in northwest Delhi’s Samaypur Badli, is one of indomitable spirit overcoming all odds.
“I was born in Bihar. A heart condition forced my father to relocate to Delhi. He was detected with a brain tumour after a few years and passed away,” said the athlete, who was felicitated at a Delhi stadium on Monday.
Thakur cleaned buses and worked in roadside dhabas to make ends meet.
‘I cleaned buses, worked as a waiter’
Thakur suffers from left sided hemiparesis, a condition in which a patient suffers paralysis of the left side of the body after a stroke of the brain.
It was difficult for Narayan’s mother to look after her three children after the death of her husband who used to work in a plastic factory. “That’s when I was sent to an orphanage in Daryaganj, as I would get food to eat and the chance to study,” said Thakur.
Thakur said he was always interested in sports, cricket being his first love. “I wanted to play cricket, but somehow it did not happen. I left the orphanage so that I could look for other alternatives in sports.”
When he left the orphanage in 2010, his family suffered another cruel blow. “That was the time when the jhuggis we were staying in Samaypur Badli were demolished. We had no option but to shift to a nearby area. “We had serious financial problems and to make end meet I had to clean DTC buses and work as waiter at small roadside thelas (stalls). But I still had the spirit to pursue sports.”
He got his chance when somebody advised him to practice athletics at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. “I was excited. But the problem was I did not have the money to commute from my home to the stadium. I had to change three buses to reach the stadium. I tried to shift base to Panipat. That also did not happen as I could not afford spending 40 to 50 rupees on bus tickets. Then I shifted to Thyagaraj Stadium for training.”
Thakur said he worked hard on his game and impressed all with his performance in some international competitions, which paved the way for his participation in the Jakarta Games. “I am happy to have won the gold for India in Jakarta. I am the only Indian to have won the athletics 100m gold in an Asiad or Asian Para Games,” he said with pride.
Thakur, who doesn’t have a job and helps his mother run a paan/gutkha shop, is now optimistic that his life will change for good.