Manorama Sports Star 2023: Gutsy Sidhartha shoots his way to glory

Sidhartha Babu
Sidhartha Babu has qualified for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.

Thiruvananthapuram: The libraries in Thiruvananthapuram had played a pivotal role in igniting Sidhartha Babu's passion for shooting. The books on shooting that he borrowed from these libraries and his unwavering resolve to overcome obstacles have ultimately enabled him to clinch a gold medal at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games.

When Sidhartha shot down the yellow metal in the mixed 50m rifle prone SH1 event at the continental event with a meet record, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first to congratulate him on social media. With self-belief and hard work, One of the six nominees for the Manorama Sports Star Award 2023, Sidhartha has not only overcome his physical challenges but has also broken the convention to excel in his chosen sport.

Sidhartha was employed at the Regional Cancer Centre in Thiruvananthapuram after completing a paramedical course when his world turned upside down. On July 20, 2002, Sidhartha was on his way to the Jawahar Balabhavan in Vellayambalam where he worked as a karate instructor when a speeding car rammed into his motorcycle. Sidhartha, who was paralysed below the waist after being grievously injured in the accident, was left bedridden for a whole year. 

"While being bedridden, I decided that for the rest of my life I would do things that would make me happy. While doing my MCA at the College of Engineering in Thiruvananthapuram, I could gain practical knowledge in mechanical design. I have invented many gadgets to help physically challenged folks, including a car hand-control to use in my car," says Sidhartha.

As he was told that he would never be able to walk for the rest of his life. Sidhartha turned his rehabilitation into a training ground and poured over books on target shooting to learn the nuances of the sport. He started training at the National Games Shooting Range in Vattiyoorkavu, SAI centre in Bengaluru, and the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in New Delhi. Sidhartha has represented Kerala in several national para-shooting competitions and won medals of different hues. 

The most memorable moment of his shooting career came at the 2023 National Shooting Championship in New Delhi where he clinched a gold medal after quelling the challenge of mainstream marksmen. The 44-year-old has also qualified for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.

Sidhartha has won two bronze medals - in the 10m air rifle prone event and the 50m rifle prone event - at the para shooting world cups in 2017 and 2021. Winning the gold medal at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games was the highest point in his shooting career. 

Sidhartha, who loves adventure sports and swimming, would go scuba diving at the Kovalam beach whenever he is in his home town. "I want to learn to play the guitar. However, my ultimate aim is regaining my ability to stand and walk. I also have plans to develop a hand-control to ride my bike," Sidhartha says with confidence.

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