Anti-drug campaign: Despite 60% disability, athlete drives from Kerala to Kashmir
Srinagar: Athlete Joby Mathew has made a name in arm wrestling, fencing, and powerlifting. He drove from his native Kerala to Kashmir with his family to take part in the 45th National arm wrestling championship here. He is also 60 per cent orthopedically challenged.
“I am a physically-challenged person but in my mind I am not challenged. I can do anything, I have no legs but I have a strong upper body and arms. I focus on my abilities, not on inability,” Mathew, the captain of Kerala arm wrestling team, told PTI.
Mathew drove his family in his “adapted vehicle” all the way from Kochi to Srinagar to take part in the national championship but his aim was to create awareness about drug abuse along the 3,600 kilometres journey aross the length of the country.
“This was an adventurous journey but I am so happy. My family is with me, this journey was a message to the youngsters to say ‘No to drugs’ because drugs spoil our young generation. Nowadays, drug threat is very much in our society,” he said.
Mathew said it was his wife who suggested undertaking the journey with a message against drug abuse. The sportsman credits his mother too for this positive approach.
“My father died when I was a child. My mother alone raised me. The support of my family, first from my mother and now my wife, has made me a more successful person. Disabilities don’t matter, our positive attitude matters Monday I am a champion. I proved my proficiency in arm wrestling, wheelchair fencing, powerlifting. Last, I won a gold medal in powerlifting in South Korea,” he said.
Mathew believes that everyone is blessed with some skill or the other but they don’t realise it.
“People think I am challenged but I don’t feel so. We have abilities and inabilities but we should focus on abilities and work hard. God will bless us and we can achieve anything in this world,” he said.
Mathew also lambasted authorities for forcing so many restrictions on people like him and hampering their freedom to move.
“Roads are not supportive, so many footpaths are not disabled-friendly right now but I have adapted the system in my vehicle. We should come out from home and be active in society. It is only then people will accept us and love us. Physically challenged persons shouldn’t shy away from coming out of their homes. We have the ability to overcome all barriers,” he said.
With 28 medals including international ones, Mathew has lived up to his words.
Megha Joby, Mathew’s wife, says she is proud of her husband.
“He is a very strong person, he is very loveable and kind. I think our journey will inspire others because our message is family harmony and for youth to say no to drugs,” she said.
Jose, Mathew’s young son, finds inspiration in his father.
“He is very strong and he is supportive. He is a great dad and inspiration to all,” the son said.