A Future Star is Born
Murlikant Petkar was born on 1st November 1944 in Peth Islampur region of Sangli, Maharashtra. He developed a keen interest in sports at a very young age while in school. He was particularly good at wrestling, athletics, and hockey. He once defeated the village head’s son in wrestling and had to subsequently face the wrath of all villagers. This incident triggered him to run away to Pune where he enrolled in the Boys Battalion of the Indian Army. Here, he excelled at every sport and became an enviable person amongst his peers and seniors alike.
Indo-Pak War- Series of Mishaps
Unfortunately, this star player found himself in the midst of the 1965 Indo-Pak War at Sialkot Sector while he was in Kashmir. Petkar suffered multiple gunshot wounds, was run over by a car and also lost his memory. As a grim reminder of these horrific incidents, he still has a bullet lodged in his spine. However, his extraordinary courage and willpower helped him make significant recovery in a short span of two years.
A New Beginning
Petkar started working as a jawan in the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME) in the Indian Army. Soon, he got an opportunity to represent the Indian Army in Boxing at the International Services Sports Meet 1964 in Tokyo. After he was transferred to Secunderabad, Petkar started training to be an armourer and thus began his full-fledged preparations for Nationals.
A Remarkable Comeback
In 1968, Petkar participated in table tennis at the Summer Paralympics and cleared the first round. Here, he won four medals in swimming. In 1967, he became the Maharashtra State Champion in Shot-put, Javelin throw, Discus throw, Weightlifting, Table Tennis and Archery. The highlight of Petkar’s career was the gold he won in the 50-metre freestyle swimming event in the 1972 Summer Paralympics held in Germany. With this achievement, he set a new world record and became India’s first Paralympics Gold medallist.
In 1972, he began working in TELCO, Pune. At present, he holds the post of Senior Assistant in the Public Relations Department. In spite of being a loyal serviceman and an athlete extraordinaire, Petkar has been subjected to injustices on both political and social level, however his contribution to the field and subsequent honour which he deserves remain indubitable.
Padma Shri Glory
Despite putting in years of hard work and brining glory to the country, the lack of appreciation did not deter Petkar. He has been representing the country at various levels and making each Indian proud. Finally, it was in the year 2018 that he became the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri award.