Financial burdens threaten the para-athlete Mona Agarwal’s dreams

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Mona Agarwal

Mona Agarwal, a champion para shooter, despite being afflicted with polio, has made her mark in the world of para sports, excelling not only in shooting but also in shot put, javelin, discus throw, and even powerlifting.

Her prowess in the 10m air rifle (SH1) para shooting category has led her to secure gold at the WSPS Para World Cup in New Delhi and another gold at the Para World Cup in Changwon, Korea. These victories have secured India’s ninth and last Paralympic quota.

Mona Agarwal’s financial hurdles

However, despite her remarkable achievements, Mona faces significant financial hurdles that threaten her Paralympic ambitions. The primary issue is the lack of funds required to procure a new wheelchair for the upcoming Paris Paralympic Games. Mona believes that an upgraded wheelchair could elevate her performance to a different level at the Paralympics.

All her sponsorship funds were exhausted in buying a rifle and competing “at her own cost” in the Changwon World Cup. The budget she received from her sponsor for the current year, amounting to Rs 15 lakh, was spent on buying a rifle and competing in Korea. She also spent Rs 7 lakh in Korea. Now, she needs about Rs 6 lakh to buy a new wheelchair.

Mona had expected to get enrolled in the government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) following her success in the Delhi Para World Cup in March. She is hopeful it will happen but is unsure why it’s been delayed. She has written several emails to the Sports Authority of India, informing them that she needs to upgrade her equipment for the Paralympics and thus requires financial support.

In addition to her sports career, Mona is also the founder of the national para volleyball girls’ team and travels across India to motivate girls to take up sports whenever time permits. Despite these challenges, she has been staying away from her family, which includes two school-going children and a bedridden husband, for the last three months, training and residing at the National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) at the Karni Singh Shooting Range.

Her current wheelchair, which she uses for both training and competition as well as regular use, needs to be upgraded. The uneven roads inside the Karni Singh Range have led to wheel alignment issues, affecting her stability during shooting practice and competition.

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