by We Are Sikhs — June 29, 2022
"I hope that people can see all I am doing and realize that if I can do it, they can too." - Chandeep Singh
Chandeep Singh lost both of his arms at only 11 years old. While many would have given up hope and been distraught at such a loss, Chandeep only felt more motivated. Eight years later, he became the first Indian to win a medal for India in the World Taekwondo Championship. He also is an accomplished skater and swimmer. Meet Chandeep below.
You are an inspiring athlete; what made you interested in sports?
I have always loved sports. Before the incident, I played cricket and was the goalkeeper in football (soccer). After the incident, I could not play those sports, but I wanted to continue challenging myself and competing.
I will always push myself until I reach my best. I am not at my best yet, so I will continue training and learning. I also want to make my family proud and provide for them. They have done everything for me, and now it is my turn to take care of them.
And, like many Indian athletes, I want to compete at an international level so I can get medals for my country. That goal has limited the sports I pursue because only a few sports have international paralympic championships.
Can you describe your journey from skating to Taekwondo?
The first sport I chose after the incident was skating. From 2012 to 2016, I participated in every tournament I could. I was the only para-skater from India for a while, and I was drawn to skating specifically because it is difficult. Hands and arms play a vital role in balancing and gaining speed, but I wanted the challenge.
I asked a friend to put their hands behind their back and skate to see how they kept their balance and gained speed. Once I saw that they could do it without their arms and hands, it just clicked for me.
I was the state champion in skating three times and once I had a national bronze medal. There were other skating competitions where I was not allowed to be considered for awards because they were not para-recognized events. That prompted me to focus on para-sports where I could compete, like Taekwondo.
In 2017, the Golden Book for World Records recorded me as the fastest para-skater in the 100m category, but, I wanted to compete so I began training in Taekwondo.
While I compete in the para tournaments, I do not train with the para team. I train and fight with the fully able team. While it is difficult in training here, I will have an easier time in the international competitions where I compete with other para-athletes.
In the last five years, I have become a state champion, district champion, and national champion in Taekwondo. For the last 3-4 years I have also represented India at an international level, where I have four gold medals, two silver, and one bronze. When I won the silver medal in 2019, I was the first Indian to win a medal in the World Taekwondo Championship.
Recently, I have also taken up swimming as a hobby because I want to learn that too.
You had an incredible mentor in Milka Singh. Can you tell us about your relationship with this Olympic athlete and any advice he gave you?
Milka Singh was my first official sponsor for my tournaments. He was also my mentor. He was the one who arranged everything with the paralympic association of India, which enabled me to pursue Taekwondo. He and his family were my main guidance. Milka Singh, his wife, and his daughter were my light and a guide for me, especially in sports. They provided me with every support that was possible.
Milka and I would meet regularly, and his main advice was “always work hard because that is the thing that will take you a long way.” He would also inspire me with the stories from his own life.
Your hard work and dedication are admirable. What motivates you the most?
When I was in the hospital after my incident, my family was always there. They encouraged me to embrace what had happened and they supported me in moving on and pursuing every opportunity. Their encouragement and support are what drove me to commit to doing good with my life. They were my greatest motivation initially, and continue to motivate me to grow today. I want to give them the best life. They have sacrificed everything for me, and I know this is my time to do that for them.
Is there anything else you want to tell people?
I hope that people can see all that I am doing and realize that if I can do it, they can too. If even one person is inspired by my story and commits to doing good with their life, that means everything to me.
Follow Chandeep on Instagram for more inspiration: @chandeepsudan