'We as a country have huge potential, whether it is abled or disabled sport', says Para-Badminton gold-medalist Manasi Joshi (Exclusive)
August 25, 2019, it was a Sunday evening, a holiday in most parts of India. PV Sindhu was facing Nozomi Okuhara in the final of the World Championships. The nation was in anticipation for India's first gold medal in the World Championships albeit India's Manasi Joshi had created history by winning a gold medal in the Para Badminton World Championships the previous day.
On Saturday, 30-year-old Manasi Joshi defeated Parul Parmar in the final of the Para Badminton World Champions. Manasi's story is a tale of ups and downs, it's a story that inspires an individual to never give up.
An electrical engineer by profession, in 2011, on her way to work, she met with an accident after which her left leg had to be amputated and her career took a turn that she wouldn't have imagined.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Manasi talked about her winning feeling, preparation, expectation and more.
"I have been playing badminton since the age of 6 but it was more of a hobby than a choice to make a professional career out of it. But all of that changed when the accident took place and I was only 22 years old at the time. My leg had to be amputated. It felt like the world came crashing down on me," Manasi said while talking about the accident which changed the course of her life.
"I had to learn to walk all over again and that too with the help of crutches. At such times, badminton was my only solace and rescue to revive myself from the tragedy I had to undergo. So, I took to the sport and I am glad I made that choice," Manasi's determination and never say never spirit helped her to succeed as she won her first gold medal in the World Championships.
While talking about her feeling after winning the final, Manasi said,
"Ecstatic, I was ecstatic as ever. The amount of hard work I have put in had finally paid off. Felt glad that this came on the day when it was exactly a year to Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. It has been my dream to represent my country and this could not have come on a better day."
The 2020 Paralympic games are set to be held in Tokyo from August 25, 2020.
The 30-year-old defeated the veteran three-time champion Parul Parmar in the final. This was the first occasion on which she beat Parul. "My mindset was to be aggressive. The fact that I have faced her many times before, even though I have lost to her always, gave me the belief that I also know how she plays, her strengths and her weaknesses. So, I had prepared myself accordingly."
Manasi trains at the Pullela Gopichand academy in Hyderabad.
"I am honoured to be a part of the academy. Pullela Sir’s academy is one of the finest in the country. We have witnessed some great players from the academy who have gone on to make their mark in the sport at an international level in recent times. I am lucky to be a part of the academy," Joshi appreciated the academy.
Most specially-abled players have to go through trouble while travelling. In November 2018, during the Australia Para-Badminton International, Manasi's sports prosthesis was lost in transit in Singapore and the airlines were unable to track it. She received her prosthetic leg after three days had passed in the competition.
While talking about her future aspirations she said, "My ultimate aim is to qualify for the Paralympic games, and I am training hard for it. As for Para-Badminton, I want more para-athletes to play the sport. I believe that we as a country have huge potential, whether it is abled or disabled sport and can achieve so much if we have the right people to support us." She urged youngsters to take up sport.
"I have got an overwhelming response and I really cannot thank everyone enough for all the love they have shown to me. The people around me recognise my efforts and the time I have invested in reaching here and would request everyone to keep supporting me," she signed off as she talked about the recognition she received after her heroics.