Suhas Yathiraj: From Covid-19 frontline warrior to Tokyo Paralympics silver medallist

The IAS officer not only brought glory for the country at Tokyo Paralympics but also served its people during the pandemic

By Samrat Chakraborty
Picture by Kiyoshi Ota/ Getty Images

Indian Administrative Officer (IAS) and Paralympian Suhas Yathiraj is a man of many talents. He clinched a silver medal at the Tokyo Paralympics in the SH4 class after being on the frontline as India battled the Covid-19 pandemic in the last 15 months or so.

Yathiraj is the District Magistrate of Gautam Buddha Nagar, which falls in the suburbs of Uttar Pradesh. He had the option of training, like his fellow para-shuttlers, at chief coach Gaurav Khanna's academy in Lucknow. But he chose to stay in his designated province during the pandemic and serve his people. He started training for the Tokyo Paralympics only after the conditions eased.

It was during this time that he would take lessons from Khanna over the phone or through video calls and work accordingly at his hometown in Noida.

"Suhas he felt that it is important to be in Noida. It was not easy for him to get leaves during that period (Covid-19) of time," chief coach Gaurav Khanna said in a media interaction.

"We used to talk on calls everyday, discussing his training and what is actually required of him. We were in touch and obviously he has a brilliant mind. It didn't take him time to grasp things that I told him and he only prepared a little bit more than I'd advised," he added.

Silver medalist Suhas Yathiraj of Team India (L)
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Yathiraj, 38, paid special attention to his fitness apart from his skills training during the pandemic. He, however, did not train for long hours as he believes in making every second count.

"I had always given fitness importance during the day (during pandemic). During Covid-19 situation we couldn't practice much because we didn't get time. Once the Covid-19 situation was in control, I could train with a few sparring partners in Noida," Yathiraj recalled.

"We trained on different aspects. I don't believe it is important to train for long hours. It's important to make the hours count whether you train for two hours or four. I think it has paid off but gold would have been better," he added.

And now with a medal from the Paralympics in his pocket, he wants to be an inspiration for the youngsters, through his achievements.