Home Fitness India’s Women Para-Athletes – Grit. Guts. Gumption.

India’s Women Para-Athletes – Grit. Guts. Gumption.

by Tanya Agarwal

The stereotype breakers are not breaking anymore stereotypes. They have done their bit, fought for us, made the world think, opened its horizons, have gotten us amazing opportunities and with every reason we have celebrated them enough. And yet, there are real life stories of absolute guts being made everyday, waiting to be told.

I am an amateur runner, sitting in the thick of NCR, which is the largest hotspot of running events in India. Events galore every Sunday, but I have never seen a woman para-athlete being felicitated, recognized or even invited! Why is that?

This international women’s day, I as a woman blogger, a sports girl myself, want to spread the achievements of women para-athletes for making our country proud with courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. 

Karamjyoti Dalal – Discus Thrower

Haryana girl! When she was 21, around seven years back, she was sitting down on her terrace and there was a sudden jerk, due to her prior epilepsy problem, which saw her fall down on back. She couldn’t move for close to a year, and was completely bed-ridden. It took Dalal about two years to become thoroughly mobile on her wheelchair. There is a detailed article on her here that I really liked.

Karam Jyoti Dalal - India's Women Para Athletes - Guts. Grit. Gumption. Wellthyfit.com
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Medal Achievements:

  1. Gold Medal at Fazaa Grand Prix in Dubai, 2017.
  2. Two Bronze Medals at Asian Games in Beijing, 2014. 
  3. Ranked as world no. 8 at Asian Games 2014.
  4. Bronze Medal at World Para-Athletic Championship in London 2014

What got me more in awe of Karam is that she picked up Discus Throw only a couple of years back! This is not the sport she played growing up in her childhood or her teenage years! Some people teach to live at every stage of our life!

Manasi Joshi – Badminton Player

Manasi Joshi is an Indian para-badminton athlete who is as of June 2019 World No. 2 in SL3 Singles. Manasi was a sporty girl right from her childhood. Extra curriculars came easy to her. She played Badminton all through her growing up years and her father was her first coach. At the age of 22, an accident while driving her motorbike, a lorry ran over her leg.

Medals

  • 2015 medal in mixed doubles, Para-Badminton World Championships
  • 2016 Bronze in women’s singles & women’s doubles, Para-Badminton Asian Championships 
  • 2017 Bronze in women’s singles, Para-Badminton World Championships
  • 2018 Bronze in women’s singles, Thailand Para-Badminton International
  • 2018 Bronze in women’s singles, Asian Para Games 2018
  • 2019 Gold in women’s singles, Para-Badminton World Championship, Basel, Switzerland

What stands out about Manasi – She didn’t look back! In her own words: ” Trust me, there was not even a single point where I felt something very bad has happened to me. I’ll say the worst I felt was when I came home and I looked at myself in mirror and said, ‘Oh yeah this doesn’t look good!’ But then after a few days I felt ‘It’s OK, it’s just a scar… it’s just a leg.'”

Manasi Joshi. India's Women Para Athletes - Guts. Grit. Gumption. 
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Source: feminismindia.com

While trying to know more about Manasi, I came across this beautiful article on her done by Feminism India. It has details on her fitness regime and the person that became a champion after an accident. Do read it.

Two para-athletes from Karnataka Rakshitha and Radha became the first girls from the country to win medals at the Asian Para Games 2018, when they brought home a gold and a silver, respectively

Shalini Saraswathi – Blade Runner

Shalini is well known when it comes to creating goosebumping inspiration. Today she is a blade runner, a motivational speaker, a blogger. There are a gazillion articles on her. But I wanted to put out her story once again because many many women need to learn from her. I suggest you read about her in detail to understand what happened to Shalini. While reading this particular piece on her, I stopped for a moment, looked at my arms, my legs, my feet, closed my eyes, folded my hands to thank the powers for giving me a normal functioning body day after day.

It was a trip to Cambodia, after which when she came back to India, she was diagnosed with a rickettsial infection at the age of 32. She was pregnant at that time. In time, she lost her baby, had multiple organ failure, both her arms had to be amputated from below the elbow, along with her legs.

Shalini Saraswathi - ndia's Women Para Athletes - Guts. Grit. Gumption. 
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Source: The Week

Shalini won the bronze medal at the national-level parathletics held last year, and is now aiming for the 100-metre and 200-metre sprints in 2020. I could go on and on writing about my learnings about Shalini just from the internet. She is something. But I will stop here, because there is no way one can finish writing about her!

Sakina Khatun – Powerlifter

The 4th lady on my blog that I want to bring to you has not been celebrated enough. She is the only woman para-athlete in the history of India to have won a medal at the Commonwealth Games. Sakina has fought polio all her life, since the age of 1.5 years. She is a daughter of a farmer, always lived in very poor means. He could never really get the best treatments for Sakina despite wanting the best for his daughter. She underwent 4 surgeries to survive polio.

sakina Khatun. ndia's Women Para Athletes - Guts. Grit. Gumption. 
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Source: SocialStory

I read an article on Sakina…and these words from her shook me a bit – “Right from fighting muscle pain and fatigue, training with weights and dumbbells every day to overcoming a lot of financial distress, my journey was fraught with multiple challenges. But I knew it was important for me to not give up at any point. After all, no aspiration is worth renouncing,” Sakina Khatun tells SocialStory.   

You could read all about her on this article by SocialStory. Great job done SocialStory for bringing Sakina’s tale out as no one else has given her the rightful space on social media that she deserves.

Medals/ Achievements: ( source: Wikipedia)

  • Khatun is the only Indian woman para-athlete in Indian history to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games.
  • Bronze medal at Glasgow in, 2014.
  • Silver Medal in Asian Pra Games, 2018.
  • Sixth position at the World Championships, 2019

…..And such stories of Grit, Guts, Gumption are many and endless. There are many young Indian para-athlete girls playing and winning around the globe at the moment.

I read this quote by Shawn Johnson – “To have any doubt in your body is the biggest weakness an athlete can have.” Can somebody reach out to him, make him read about these girls, their achievements and ask him if his quote makes any sense to him anymore?

Happy Women’s Day to you all! No, this day is not redundant. Women all around the world, continue to give us many reasons to celebrate!

Tanya Agarwal is Founder and Blogger at WellthyFit - a health and fitness blog on Yoga, Running, Healthy Living, Nutrition, Travel, Joy and everything Life! She reviews fitness products and experiences. WellthyFit is her platform where she invites passionate fitness writers to share their expertise. With her blogs and fun videos she motivates people to stay the course of health and fitness day after Day.

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