"Still Have Nightmares": India's Paralympic Star Sharad Kumar Opens Up On Trauma Of Bullying
Tokyo Paralympics: Bronze medallist Sharad Kumar and India's other para-athletes opened up about their bullying experiences and their trauma.
- Sharad Kumar spoke about his nightmares from bullying in school
- Sumit Antil also spoke about his experiences
- Devendra Jhajharia opened up about how he was discriminated
In an interaction with NDTV, some of India's star para-athletes opened up about the traumas of bullying and why it is an important issue that needs highlighting. High jumper Sharad Kumar, who won bronze at the Tokyo Paralympics, opened up about how he still has nightmares of being bullied in school, while star javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia revealed how he was discriminated against due to an accident in which he lost his arm. Sumit Antil, who won the gold medal in javelin throw at the Paralympics, also spoke about his experiences.
"It's not just in para-athletics. Bullying is quite a serious issue, whether you look at schools or colleges. There are many students who leave institutes because of bullying," Sharad Kumar said.
"People think that 'I have done bullying in school or college, but I'll go and say sorry later', but the implication doesn't end there. People suffer traumas of it later, and those are very dangerous traumas," he added.
"In my school there were some seniors, they used to bully others. But they'd think that once they were done with school, they'd say 'I'm sorry, I was just a school student then.' It ends there for them, but for the guy that you bullied, it is just the start for him," Sharad said.
"I still have nightmares of the things I was bullied with. I still get them. All my friends in my circle know it. I was beaten, I was teased. I still go through it. I shiver when I sleep. Of course I shiver. Sometimes the memories of what happened come back. It doesn't end."
He said that he has written to many politicians urging them to take up the issue.
"I have mailed quite a few politicians saying that you raise so many issues, please raise the issues of bullying and ragging. These are very important issues," he said.
"It stops several students from truly living their lives. It finishes them right there. It makes them think, 'What do I do? I am so weak.'"
Sumit Antil said that while he hasn't been bullied, people did make him feel uncomfortable due to the way they would look at his leg.
"I've never had to face bullying, but yes, the way people look at my leg sometimes, it feels odd. Although, that has improved now," he said.
Devendra Jhajharia, who added a silver to his two collection of two gold medals, said he was bullied in school when he tried to take up sports after losing his arm.
"When I was 9-10 years old and had my accident, people would give me dirty looks. After that, when I rejoined school, I always had an interest in sports, so I went to the ground. There people asked me a lot of questions. 'Why are at the ground? You are physically challenged, you should sit in the classroom'," he said.
"Somewhere, that made me angry. That's when I told myself that I won't let anyone call me weak. So that is when I started to play. Then I beat those same kids in javelin throw and went on to become the district champion," he said.
Sharad Kumar won the bronze medal in men's high jump (T63) in Tokyo, while Sumit Antil won the gold in men's javelin throw (F64). Devendra Jhajharia won the silver medal in men's javelin throw (F46).