A horrific accident resulting in an amputated leg can be the end of dreams for most people but not for Manasi Joshi.
She rebuilt her life from there; last year, she reached the pinnacle of success at the BWF Para Badminton World Championships in Basel, where she was crowned the world champion.
An epitome of courage and determination, Joshi never let that one accident take control of her life. She has provided hope and inspiration to many for whom life seemingly came to a standstill after losing a limb. She has given confidence to many to work for their dreams even when the road ahead seems full of obstacles.
Deservedly, the 31-year-old was featured on the cover of TIME Magazine as one of its Next Generation Leaders.
Manasi Joshi - the early years
Sport had always been a significant part of Manasi Joshi's life even though she came from an academic family.
When she was just six, her father, a former scientist at Mumbai's prestigious Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, introduced badminton to her. Manasi Joshi also dabbled in volleyball, basketball and football.
She went on to excel in both academics and badminton, learning the basics of the sport from her father. Manasi Joshi went on to play badminton at school and district level before graduating from KJ Somaiya College of Engineering in 2010 in Electronics Engineering.
Joshi landed a job at Atos India as a software engineer. Even there, she left her mark as a sportsperson, winning an intra-corporate badminton tournament in 2011. However, on December 2 that year, the then-22-year-old Manasi Joshi's life would change forever.
Manasi Joshi's used to commute to her office, which was seven km away from her home, on a motorbike.
On the morning of December 2, 2011, she met with an accident when a truck ran over her left leg. The chirpy, bubbly girl remained in hospital for 45 days and had to be operated upon every few days. Doctors battled hard to save her left leg but couldn't do so, as gangrene set in, and the leg had to be amputated.
It was the constant encouragement from everybody around her, starting from hospital nurses to her friends and family, that pumped Manasi Joshi up. She came back home with a prosthetic limb and picked up the badminton racquet again as a part of her rehabilitation process.
It was indeed a tedious task as the Mumbai girl had to learn to walk all over again. But she never gave up. The undying spirit and zeal kept her going, and by 2012, she was good enough to beat able-bodied athletes. After one such win at a corporate tournament, Joshi started contemplating taking up para-badminton professionally on the insistence of her friend and para-shuttler Neeraj George.
After winning a silver medal at the National Games, she played her first international tournament at the Spanish Para Badminton International. Despite not winning a medal there, the exposure instilled her with massive confidence.
Manasi Joshi wins medals galore
Manasi Joshi started putting rigorous hours at training while also continuing to work. In 2015, she was rewarded for her efforts with a mixed doubles silver medal at the Para-Badminton World Championships.
A couple of bronze medals followed at the 2016 Asian Para Badminton Championships and the 2017 Para Badminton World Championships respectively.
A chance meeting with the legendary Pullela Gopichand while she was working at a bank in Ahmedabad gave her career a new dimension. Manasi Joshi quit her job and moved to Hyderabad in 2018 to give new wings to her para-badminton career.
Focused as ever, Manasi Joshi kept putting in the hard yards at the Pullela Gopichand Academy. After another couple of bronze medals at the Asian Para Games and a Thailand event in 2018, it was time for Manasi Joshi to conquer the world.
Manasi Joshi's crowning glory
Nothing could daunt Manasi Joshi in the final of the 2019 Para Badminton World Championships. Not even the fact that defending champion Parul Parmar, her opponent in the final, had never lost to Joshi. The unfazed Manasi Joshi was ready for every challenge that came her way.
She took time to settle into the match against her idol. Parmar put up a stiff fight, but Joshi was able to take the opening game of the SL3 women's singles final 21-12. Her speed and lack of errors ultimately made life difficult for Parmar, who went down 12-21, 7-21 for her first-ever loss to Joshi.
The gritty girl is not stopping anytime soon and will next set her sights on qualifying for the Paralympic Games. Manasi Joshi has thus shown that if one has the belief and the willingness to work hard, no hurdle is big enough.Published 21 Nov 2020, 00:52 IST