Bhavina Patel has become a household name in India over the past couple of days, thanks to her historic performance at the ongoing Tokyo Paralympics. The 34-year-old has reached the final of Women's Singles Class 4 and is assured India of at least a silver medal.
While Bhavina Patel has had a fairy tale run in Tokyo after losing her first group stage match, her journey to the top has never been so easy.
She had qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, but could not travel and compete in Brazil due to what she terms as 'federation issues.'
But, none of that deterred her. Nor did the covid-19 enforced lockdowns during last year.
Bhavina Patel bought a second-hand table tennis robot back in 2018. While the postponement of the Tokyo Paralympics due to covid-19 was a big jolt to her, she continued to practice with the robot during the lockdown. Besides, she also used internet videos to prepare herself for the Paralympics.
Having met her coach, Lalan Doshi, in 2008, she has spent 8 hours daily over the past thirteen years bettering her game under his tutelage.
"This is an effort of over 13 years. She has trained for eight hours every day," Doshi had said to The Bridge after Bhavina had entered the semifinal.