Eight-year-old Aronyatesh Ganguly showed the world that he is a real champion. The boy with incredible fighting spirit from West Bengal’s Serampore has made the entire nation proud by winning gold in table tennis at the World Children’s Winners Games 2019 held in Moscow. He is also a cancer survivor.
The July 4-7 event was scheduled as an international sports competition for childhood cancer survivors. “Aronyatesh was so excited he forgot the suffering he had gone through,” said mother Kaveri, who accompanied him to Moscow.
The active participants in Moscow took part in six events namely track, chess, football, table tennis, swimming and rifle shooting.
“Aronyatesh was among 10 children from India and the only one from Bengal who competed with kids from across the globe. He has amazing sporting skills and participated in all six disciplines,” said Ameeta Bhatia, a volunteer social worker at the paediatric department of Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), Mumbai, where Aronyatesh was treated for leukaemia.
Aronyatesh who has been diagnosed with leukaemia in April 2016 had to stay in Mumbai for 11 months for his treatment. After several rounds of chemotherapy and other medication, doctors declared him ‘cancer-free’ in December 2018.
But he needs frequent follow-ups and treatment so that the disease does not reoccur. Nobody knew his passion for sports until volunteers and doctors came to know about it during Aronyatesh’s long stay in TMH.
Aronyatesh had been eagerly practising for the event for more than 2 months besides regular check-ups to keep himself healthy. “His day would start at 5.30am. From 6 am to 7.30am, he went for track and football practice. After that, it was swimming, followed by chess and table tennis. He attended shooting classes in the evening,” said Kaveri.
He would attend shooting classes by travelling to Bhadreshwar daily. It was Chief coach at Bulls Eye Shooting Academy Pankaj Podder found a prodigy in Aronyatesh, who hit the centre of the target on the very second day of his training and since then, he grew from strength to strength.
“He is a gifted boy. I am amazed at the kind of calm and concentration he has at such a young age. We are planning to train him further,” said Podder, an acclaimed shooter.
Podder didn’t charge even a single penny for training Aronyatesh and the academy already started looking for sponsors to provide for the child’s kits so that he can continue training after his Moscow trip. It is not just Podder but Aronyatesh’s grit, determination, energy and skill won the hearts of all his coaches.
From Soumen Mukherjee, who taught him how to perfect the art of table tennis, to Sharad Vaze, his chess tutor, and Koel Niyogi, his swimming instructor, all are quite surprised by his never give up attitude,
For the uninitiated, World Children’s Winners Games is a yearly event that is organized by Podari Zhizn (Grant of Life) Foundation, founded by two Russian actors. It aims to restore children who fought a long battle with cancer. All ten participants across India in 2019 were selected by a panel at TMH, Mumbai.
(This article was originally published in Times of India)