Sharath M. Gayakwad
Award Name : Arjuna Award
Year of Award : 2015
Award for : Sports and Games
Location : Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Sharath M. Gayakwad is an Indian Paralympic swimmer from Bangalore. At the 2014 Asian Games, he broke P.T. Usha's record for most number of medals by an Indian at any multi-discipline event by winning 6 medals. Coming from a modest financial background, he has over 30 international and 40 national medals to his credit, one of them being the bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Para Games. He is the first Indian swimmer to qualify for the Paralympics and competed in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London. Sharath has been receiving both monetary and non-monetary support from the GoSports Foundation, Bangalore since 2011. Sharath was born in Bangalore, India in 1991 with a deformed left hand. He attended the Little Flower Public School in Bangalore, where his parents were initially apprehensive of sending him to mandatory swimming classes because of his disability. However, he eventually took up swimming classes at the age of 9 along with the rest of the class. Soon after that, he was to be seen participating in various swimming events for the disabled. In 2003, trainer John Christopher spotted him swimming at a school event, and ended up training Sharath for 7 years. Christopher explains that Sharath was the first paralympic swimmer he had coached, and that Sharath had to work a lot on maintaining equilibrium, because of his deformity. He attended Sri Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain College for high school studies, where he was given a fee concession and given encouragement for training. In 2015, he received the Arjuna Award for Para-Swimming.