What are the odds of making it in the world of sport? Slim at best. But it’s nothing compared to the odds a 23 years old Indian swimmer, Niranjan ‘Niru’ Mukund, was facing. Yet, after years of passionate training under equally passionate coaches, amongst them, his mentor Miguel Lopez Alvarado, Head Coach of Thanyapura aquatics academy, ‘Niru’ struck gold.
Last Thursday Niru broke an Asian swimming record. He finished a 200 m backstroke race in 03:16:01. It happened at the 2018 World Para-Swimming World Series “Internationale Deutsche Meisterschaften Swimming Berlin”, in Germany.
But Niro’s story begins much earlier, on the day of his birth. Niro was born with spina bifida and clubbed feet. What followed was a series of surgical interventions (16 in total) and a lifetime of rehabilitation. One of his doctors advised Niro to take up some sport to improve his muscles strength, and so the champion's career begun – with six hours of swimming a day supplemented by two hours at the gym, following his conviction that the key to success is a combination of dedication, determination and hard work.
Niro has more than words to show for it. He has medals – 10 from different events at the 2015 IWAS World Junior Games in Stadskanaal, The Netherlands and bronze in the 4x100m medley relay at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea. In 2016 he was named the Sportsman of the Year by the Sports Writers Association of Bangalore [SWAB] in India; In 2016, he received the Ekalavya Award from the state of Karnataka in India and was awarded the National Award for Best Para Sportsperson of the Year in 2015 by the Government of India.
The scholarship he received from Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort introduced him to his mentor, Miguel Lopez Alvarado, Head Coach of the aquatics academy. Miguel’s 20 years of experience as a coach and love for the sport clearly resonated with Niro. And if the record-breaking effort in Berlin doesn’t prove it enough, Niro already has his sights on another challenge - the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.