Young Indian figure skater in Adelaide with tall dreams

By Our Reporter
Manjesh Tiwari

With his brother Rajukumar Tiwari, India’s sole ice figure skating gold medal winner at Special Olympics, as his role model, Manjesh Tiwari came to Australia last November to train for two international competitions. But with the coronavirus leading to cancellations of all competitions and going back to India costing a lot, Manjesh who is in Adelaide is in need of funds to keep the training going.

The 13-year old is currently undergoing training for the next season, despite the financial constraints, thanks to his Australian coach Richard Laidlaw, who is looking after him at present.

Laidlaw said Manjesh came last November for a period of three months initially to prepare for the Sofia Trophy in Bulgaria this February and the Oceania International in New Zealand this May. “I was to prepare him and then he was to go off to India to take part in these competitions.”

But the Covid came and with tickets to India costing nearly 10,000 dollars, Laidlaw decided to train Manjesh through the Covid. Fortunately, he had succeeded in getting Manjesh another visa for 12 months so he could come in and out of Australia.

So since November, Manjesh has been with Laidlaw who has been training and preparing Manjesh for the international competition starting next season.

Rajkumar and Manjesh

Laidlaw met Manjesh few years ago through his brother Rajkumar, who is India’s lone gold medalist in ice figure skating. Rajkumar won gold at the 2013 Special Winter Olympics in Seoul. Rajkumar was diagnosed with moderate intellectual disability at an early age, after an accident in which he fell off the terrace. He achieved this feat without much formal training as his family was not in a condition to pay for it. Rajkumar is currently in the US as he had gone there to train for upcoming international competitions.

Laidlaw was in India when Rajkumar asked him if he could train Manjesh. Later, when Laidlaw saw Manjesh skate in Australia where he had come earlier for a competition, he noticed his potential and decided to take him on and provide him a scholarship.

It proved a great opportunity for Manjesh who started ice skating in 2014 and since then has won many competitions in India at the national level. He has the potential to make it big at the world stage, said Rajkumar, said over phone.

Manjesh with coach Richard Laidlaw

The brothers, who come from very humble backgrounds, their father is a hawker in Delhi’s Paharganj area, have been practicing hard despite their meagre resources.

Asked how they took to the sport, Rajkumar said it was when he was at the special school run by the NGO Delhi Pravah institute that the Special Olympics team came to provide training. He picked up ice figure skating well and took on the sport, inspiring his brother in the process. “Every kid has to be given a chance according to their talent,” he said, adding, they have been training at the Gurugram Ambience Mall all along prior to their trips abroad.

Manjesh said his brother and uncle Feroz helped him with the tickets and other expenses for his trip to Australia. But the expenses here are big and Rajkumar says his brother needs more funds to sustain his dreams of getting medals for India.

Manjesh Tiwari

Besides giving him free training, which includes the dance classes, strength and conditioning classes, Laidlaw is also helping Manjesh with his English and Math classes online and accommodation too. “But there are competition fees and other miscellaneous expenses which have to be met,” he said.

Few weeks ago, Manjesh won the Winning the The Noarlunga Figure Skating Club championship, a club which is affiliated with the South Australian Ice Skating Association (SAISA).

“Winning that has given me a lot of confidence and I am now prepared to conquer the world,” he said.

Rajkumar and Manjesh

With his eyes on the Junior Grand Prix 2021, Manjesh and Rajkumar are fervently hoping for some financial help coming their way either from authorities concerned or companies or benevolent individuals to fulfil their dreams of bringing laurels for India.

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