“No matter how tall a wall is, never stop climbing!”
Difficult times come and go, but the only thing that matters is to keep the fire in one’s heart burning and persevere. Little did Mumbaikar Nisha Gupta know that a spinal fracture at the age of 18 years would leave her wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life. But all hope was not lost. Today, she represents the country internationally in basketball and nationally in swimming.
Enjoying a fun moment with her brothers, Nisha recalled how she climbed a wall with them only to lose her grip and fall down with a severe fracture in her spinal cord. Nisha, helpless, could see her world crashing down in pieces.
“I thought people fracture their arms and legs all the time but it’s fixed and everything goes back to normal. I didn’t know this was a possibility and I might have to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life,” she told.
But who knew that her indomitable grit will be taking her places? She slowly sidled up to greatness in her own sweet time, letting it wash over her, while she ensured that she did not lose faith. Having spent four long years in the bed, Nisha soon started looking for a sport that she could compete and thrive in.
Swimming gave her a sense of belonging and a community in which she thrived. A fiery competitor, the speedy athlete was soon on the fast track to success. Without sport, she would have been lost. She began swimming thereon, what’s more, she soon switched her focus to basketball, too.
This was perhaps the turning point for Nisha, a significant period from which she milked self-confidence and intrinsic knowledge of her own abilities and qualities. And having said that, one cannot perhaps stress enough how difficult it is for a para-athlete to put in efforts because one has to counter a disability and perform extraordinarily well in the sport.
No, it certainly couldn’t have been easy for a teenager to be saddled with a wheelchair. But even those darkest days failed to unsettle her. Currently playing for the Maharashtra Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team, Nisha has won three state-level gold medals and three national-level bronze medals in swimming alone. Besides, she has won a bronze at the 2nd Wheelchair Basketball Tournament in Delhi five years ago, which was incidentally the first time that she competed in the sport.
“Sports has given a new meaning and direction to my life. Whatever I am today, it’s all thanks to the sports I play. I feel like a normal person when I play because I am able to do the same things as others. Nobody is going to help you unless you help yourselves. We need to show other people and the government that we exist,” she said.
Seldom do non-disabled individuals realise the strife of people with physical disabilities? Needless to say that Nisha has defied all odds to achieve niche feats and hopefully, she will pull off many more firsts in the coming years. Nisha’s thirteen-year-old journey started off as a puzzle with all its pieces jumbled and disarrayed.
But she was destined to be much more than an inspirational story. One by one, she put the pieces together to reveal a masterpiece. Her story, and her fight, goes on!