Ace shooter Tejaswini Sawant, who won back-to-back gold and silver medals at the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games in Australia, dedicated her victory to the disabled personnel of the Indian Armed Forces.
As she prepares for yet another challenge at the International Shooting Sport Federation World Cup in Changwon, South Korea, the 38-year-old shooter wanted to seek the blessings of Army personnel.
During a brief stop-off in her hometown in Pune on Sunday, Sawant sought permission to visit the Artificial Limb Centre, which manages the prosthetic and orthotic needs of disabled personnel of the Indian Armed Forces.
"When I shook hands with a soldier who had a prosthetic arm, I had tears in my eyes. These are soldiers fighting for our country, some of them are dying at an early age, some will live with handicaps for the rest of their lives," Sawant, who won her seventh CWG medal at Gold Coast after claiming two gold medals in 2006 and two silver and a bronze in 2010, told The Indian Express.
"I don't think even my tears after winning medals at CWG were a match for the emotions I felt when I met these brave men," she added.
Sawant shares a special connection with the armed forces as both her grandfathers served in the Army, while her father served in the Navy. In 2003, Sawant's father tried to encourage her to join the armed forces and participate in the selection trials as a shooter but she refused to stay away from her family.
The differently-abled soldiers were in awe of the two medals she won at Gold Coast. After meeting the soldiers, the officers present at the Centre explained how the team of physiotherapists, prosthetic surgeons, engineers and other medical social workers help the defence personnel to ensure that their lives get back on track quickly.
Sawant was taken aback by the positive atmosphere at the centre and in return, gave a heartfelt salute to the soldiers.