Mumbai: Dharavi Man Makes Champion Splash At Reykjavik International Games 2024; Bags 6 Medals In Swimming

Mumbai: Dharavi Man Makes Champion Splash At Reykjavik International Games 2024; Bags 6 Medals In Swimming

Originally a Karateka, Shams Aalam Shaikh faced a life-altering event at the age of 21, when a tumour was discovered in his backbone. After surgery at a prestigious private hospital in Mumbai, he found himself alive but disabled for life.

Megha KuchikUpdated: Monday, February 05, 2024, 11:58 AM IST
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Mumbai: Dharavi Man Makes Champion Splash At Reykjavik International Games 2024; Bags 6 Medals In Swimming |

Mumbai: A 37-year-old swimmer from Dharavi, Shams Aalam Shaikh, made a champion splash at the Reykjavik International Games 2024, in Laugardalslaug, Iceland, bringing glory to India by clinching six medals. Notably, Shams secured the World No.1 ranking in the men's 100m butterfly (S5) and 50m breaststroke (SB4) categories, according to the latest World Para Swimming rankings. Shams set new national records in the fiercely contested 100m butterfly and 100m backstroke S5 categories at the games, held from January 26 to 28, 2024, in which 22 countries participated, with India sending 400 athletes to the event.

In the 100m butterfly race, Shams finished in 2.14.25 seconds, securing a bronze medal and setting a new national record. By completing the 100m backstroke S5 in 2.14.42 seconds, he bagged another bronze and set another national record. Shams surpassed Herojit Singh’s record of 2.34.34 in the 100m butterfly and Shreekant Desai’s record in the 100m backstroke. Further embellishing his performance, Shams claimed a gold in the 200m medley event, two silver medals in the 100m and 50m breaststroke events and another bronze in the 50m backstroke event, showcasing his versatility in multiple disciplines. As a result, he has earned rankings in eight events.

Shams Aalam Shaikh's Background

Originally a Karateka, he faced a life-altering event at the age of 21, when a tumour was discovered in his backbone. After surgery at a prestigious private hospital in Mumbai, he found himself alive but disabled for life. But his spirit remained unbroken. Undeterred, he embraced a new challenge based on his doctor’s advice and transitioned to swimming. Over the last 12 years, Shams has become one of India's prominent para swimmers, participating in numerous national and international tournaments, including the Asian Games in 2018 and 2022, as well as the World Championship in 2022.

A determined Shams shared, "I am close to my dream. The qualification competitions for the Paris Para Olympic 2024 are ongoing until July 28. The medals and national records set at the Reykjavik International Games 2024 have brought me closer to qualification. I plan to participate in more tournaments, with the National Paralympic Games in March being my next opportunity to secure the Paralympic quota. Subsequently, there are events in Sweden and other foreign tournaments, giving me hope to fulfil one of my dreams."

Having resided in Dharavi since childhood, Shams now chooses to practise in Gujarat due to affordable and available infrastructure. Initially practising at the Dharavi Sports Complex, which is now under private ownership and at a substantial cost, Shams has found a conducive training environment in Gujarat to further hone his skills

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