India has always been a nation that has prided itself in the courage and the passion that has been exhibited by its sports stars. Be it batting poverty or societal norms, a vast number of world-beaters have challenged various obstacles en route glory. The stories of the para-athletes gets even more inspiring, as they not only managed to conquer their own self-doubts, but also won over the naysayers with spirited showings.
On World Disability Day, we look at some players, who are making waves in the Indians sports field.
Manasi Joshi (Badminton): The para-badminton World Championship gold medalist, Manasi Joshi lost her left leg in an accident in 2011, and soon found her calling on the badminton courts. Currently ranked number 2 in the singles circuit, she has a number of achievements in her belt so far, including a bronze and a silver to go with her gold in the World Championships. The 30-year old is currently enrolled in P Gopchand’s academy in Hyderabad, and is now aiming to qualify for the Paralympics that will be held in Tokyo next year.
Manish Narwal (Shooting): The pistol shooter, all of 17 years old, has already booked his spot for the Paralympics, securing a quota in the Men’s 10 metres Air Pistol SHI event along with Deepender Singh. Having created a buzz with his sharpshooting skills, the youngster bagged eight gold medals and a silver in the Senior Nationals last year. He also bagged a silver each in the 2017 Bangkok and Dubai World Cups. Narwal brought home India’s only gold from shooting last year from the Asian Para Games, and returned with a Games record as well in the 10m event. He clinched silver in the 50m tournament.
Niranjan Mukund (Swimmer): Mukund, all of 24, already features in the Forbes 30 U30 List under the sports and entertainment section. He started the year with a bang clinching a gold in the 200 metre event, and got a silver in the 50m Butterfly category at the World Series 2019 in Brazil. Diagnosed with spina bifida, a neural tube defect that affects the spine, the Bengaluru boy had to wade through a number of surgeries before he took to swimming. From being unable to even stand to now having won over 44 international medals, Mukund is now focused on qualifying for the Paralympics.
Ekta Bhyan (Athletics): Ekta met with a road accident way back in 2003 that led to a paralysis of her lower body. She took up discus throw in 2014 to remain physically fit and soon turned to the sport as a profession. After winning silver in the Para Athletics Grand Prix in Berlin, Bhyan’s career took an upward turn, and she clinched a gold in the Tunisia Grand Prix last year. She represented India in the Women’s Club Throw 51 in the World Para Athletics Championships this year and secured a quota place for the Paralympics in Tokyo. She is the only women from para-athletics to seal a spot in the Games thus far.
Rakesh Kumar (Archery): Rakesh Kumar became the first para-archer to qualify for the Paralympics after pitching in with a good showing in the World Para Archery Championships this year. The Jammu and Kashmir sportsman suffered a spinal injury in a car crash in 2007 and has limited mobility. He took up the sport two years ago, and participated in the European Para Archery Circuit in 2018, winning gold. He won a bronze in the Fazza Para World ranking event in the mixed team event in Dubai this year. Kumar hit a competition best of 689 points in the compound men’s open ranking round in the World Championships, which helped him book his spot to Tokyo.