Hyderabad: For an athlete to excel in a sport, it requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Imagine what it takes for a differently-abled athlete to excel in a sport. But 28-year-old Deeravath Mahesh is making waves not just in one sport but two. He is not only representing India in volleyball, but also is the captain of the Indian cricket team for differently-abled.
The athlete, who hails from Lingapur Thanda in Muduchintalapalli mandal of Medchal district, lost his right arm when he fell from the roof of his house at the age of six. Coming from a family of daily wage labourers, Mahesh worked as a labourer himself and as a newspaper boy to provide for his family. However, driven by his passion, he also pursued his dream of excelling in sports. “I never felt I was a differently-abled person. I wanted to do something in my life and inspire others. I wanted to make my parents feel proud,” says an emotional Mahesh.
He came to know about special games for differently abled in 2009 and focused his strength on training in cricket. He then was selected for his district team and then to the State team before making it to India team in 2019. Speaking about his journey, he says, “I started playing cricket in 2009 with my friends and practised hard to make it to the Indian team.”
But what made him take volleyball as well? “When I came to know that cricket was not an Olympic sport, I decided to play volleyball and worked my way into the Indian team. My dream is to play in the cricket World Cup and represent India in the Olympics in volleyball,” he revealed.
Mahesh represented India in volleyball in international tournaments held in Thailand, Sri Lanka and China. Mahesh earned three international medals and was part of the Indian team that finished third in the Volleyball World Championship in 2019. He also took part in the Indian Beach Volleyball World Series in 2019.
An all-rounder in cricket, who bowls medium pace, he was part of the Indian team that took on Bangladesh in three ODIs, three T20s and also led India in the one-off Test in Hyderabad recently. He is also part of the Indian team that will tour New Zealand for an ODI series in February next year.
How does he manage to train in both disciplines? “I train in cricket for four days and in volleyball for three days. I used to come to Gymkhana to train but travelling has become hectic. So I train at home. Whenever we have tournaments, we train in camps. Unlike regular sports, we don’t have support. People are not aware of our para sports,” he laments.
“The bats we use are also weightless ones which are costly. There are a lot of challenges. Hope we too get recognition like other athletes,” adds Mahesh, who looks at legend Sachin Tendulkar for inspiration.
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