Niranjan Mukundan, a para swimmer born with Spina Bifida, overcame immense barriers to not only represent India and win several medals, but also to set Asian records and inspire millions.
On May 8, 2022, at the Para Swimming Cup tournament in Prague, Czech Republic, para swimmer Niranjan Mukundan broke the Asian record in the 800m freestyle event by more than 50 seconds.
He broke the 12-year-old Asian mark of 12:10:34 with a time of 11:17:22 and won the championship with six medals—three gold, two silver, one bronze, and a fourth-place finish.
A 27-year-old Bengaluru para swimmer won gold in the 100m butterfly, 50m butterfly, 100m freestyle, and 100m backstroke the day before the 800m freestyle. In the first 100 meters, he was swimming alongside three of them and ahead of the group.
After the race, the Czech announcer informed the audience that he had established a new Asian record. It was an incredible feeling to see the entire stadium stand up for him.
It’s worth noting that the 800m freestyle isn’t even his main event. Niranjan typically competes in the 50m butterfly, 100m butterfly, individual medley (IM), and 50m and 100m freestyle (reaching his greatest world ranking of 10).
Niranjan is now practicing at a national training center in Berlin, Germany, in preparation for the World Para Swimming Championships in Portugal in June 2022 and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham the following year.
At the world championships, he’ll participate in the 50m butterfly, 200m IM, and 100m freestyle.
Following a postponement, these are his key focus events going up to the 2022 Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, China, next year.
Following the conclusion of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics on September 5th, the Bengaluru para athlete began his first spell in Germany with the professional squad SC Potsdam last year.
Niranjan is now practicing at a national training center in Berlin, Germany, in preparation for the World Para Swimming Championships in Portugal in June 2022 and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022.
At the world championships, he’ll participate in the 50-meter butterfly, 200-meter individual medley, and 100-meter freestyle events. The 2022 Asian Para Games will be held in Hangzhou, China next year, following a deferral.
Following the conclusion of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics on September 5th, the Bengaluru para athlete began his first tour in Germany last year with professional squad SC Potsdam.
Coach Maik Zeh, the founder and head of the Para Swimming Academy Potsdam, informed him there that the club was looking for a butterfly specialist and had chosen to sign him up for the winter season the previous year.
He returned to the squad in March 2022 after a two-month break following the completion of the winter season in January 2022.
He trains alongside world record winners, paralympic medalists, and German record holders in both para and abled swimming events. He also competes in league tournaments and short course championships for SC Potsdam on a regular basis.
Niranjan Mukundan was born in Bengaluru with Spina Bifida, a congenital spinal condition that commonly leads in lower limb paralysis.
He’s undergone 19 operations since birth. He was entirely paralyzed below the waist until the age of five. He couldn’t walk or stand. His parents carried him everywhere.
A doctor performed corrective surgery on both legs when he was five years old and urged his parents to enroll him in horseback riding or swimming courses as soon as feasible.
As a child, he didn’t want to ride a horse, so he tried swimming instead. He began swimming for aqua therapy after corrective surgery to strengthen his legs.
Water, on the other hand, provided him a sense of release and led him to parasailing. That’s how he got interested in swimming and decided to become a para swimmer. His parents enrolled him at a swimming facility in Bengaluru’s Jayanagar neighborhood right away.
He first entered a pool at the age of seven, and teacher John Christopher recognized him after only six months.
Niranjan’s Indian coach, John, told his parents about para swimming and persuaded them to enroll him. Soon after, he began training, and his progress was virtually instantaneous. For his exploits in para swimming, the Karnataka government honored him with the Ekalavya Award in 2016.
In 2015, he received the National Award for Best Para Sportsperson of the Year from the Government of India. He smashed the Asian record in the 200m backstrokes at the 2018 World Para Swimming World Series, gaining more than 85 medals for India.