Standing tall at 5’8” feet Manasi comes across as a girl with a million dollar smile and a brilliant sense of humour. Just like any other girl, Manasi too had her dreams and goals. She is an IT girl and a daughter of a scientist and thought her life was on the right track. But she never knew what life had in store for her on December 2, 2011 when a road accident caused her left leg to be amputated.
Far from letting it stop her live her life the way she was meant to, Joshi used it as motivation as she began representing India in Badminton at the Badminton for para-athletes (athletes with disabilities). A software engineer by profession, Joshi represented her school and college at various tournaments before the accident.
We spoke with Joshi ahead of her preparations for the Asian Para-Badminton Championship (China) 2016, World Championship 2017 and the 2020 Paralympics (Tokyo).
1. Can you take us through the accident in 2011?
It was Dec 2011, while going to work on my scooter a truck coming from the other side rammed into me. I was lying on the road with my bike on the other side. I was still in my consciousness as I was telling people what to do and how to go about helping me as they didn’t knew what to do in this type of situation. I was hospitalized for about 45 days and then my leg had to be amputated due to Infection. I was really enjoying the love and care that I was getting from the hospital staff. I used to crack jokes and enjoyed each and every moment in the hospital. I did lose my left leg but that incident could not hinder my confidence. With a Prosthetic leg, I was back on my feet again. From then on I have decided to live life to the fullest and to achieve much more than what I have as any other person.
2. How did you motivate yourself to play after the accident?
Badminton was always my passion; I used to play badminton since my childhood. So it’s not a thing that has happened over night. It was just that after my accident in Dec 2011 that badminton took a back seat. But post-accident, I played my first tournament for Atos which I won. That gave me the much needed confidence and from then on I never looked back.
3. Your company ‘Atos’ played a major role to motivate you and support you to take up Badminton as a professional?
Yes, they indeed helped me a lot and have been more than a support staff. My 1st international tournament was the Spanish International Tournament which was sponsored by Atos. Atos India has provided me with newer opportunities as they took care of my boarding, lodging, visa etc. It taught me a lot about sports, disability, humanity, knowledge and adaptation by the human body. I am extremely blessed to be a part of Atos India.
4. How do you go about training yourself for a major competition? Who is your coach?
I train for about two hours every day so that I could keep myself active and fit. While my preparations for international tours includes getting up at 5 a.m. in the morning and training for about two hours which includes walking, gym, and practise match with my brother. My brother is also a Badminton player and he is the one who is kind of a coach to me. We both always train together and he helps me to go about with my preparations. I currently lack a professional coachwho could guide me on my strengths and weaknesses as a player. Also I am looking forward to sponsorship for my future international tours as well.
5. What message would you like to give to the government?
In India Para players are not given much importance when compared to the other able-bodied athletes. A lot of the other players are showered with accolades and cash prizes but when it comes to Para players we are rarely recognized or appreciated for our achievements. Para players also need support and appreciation from the state as well as central government; we have to literally look for our own sponsor in order to participate in an International Tournament. Also our country and for that matter our city is not disabled-friendly. It’s very difficult for people like us to catch trains or commute in a bus. I think it’s time the government comes out with some kind of reservation for the differently abled people.
6. What’s next for you?
Well current I am preparing for the Asian Para-Badminton Championship 2016 and the World Championship 2017. Besides these my main aim is to play the 2020 Paralympics to be held at Tokyo. I will just keep practising and work hard and bring back glory to the nation.
– Silver Medal in SL3- SU5 Mixed doubles at BWF Para-Badminton World Championship held at Stoke Mandeville, England.
– In March 2015, she represented India at the V Spanish Para-Badminton International Open 2015, held at Alcudia, Spain where she fought for the Bronze.
– In December 2014, she participated in 14th Senior Para Badminton Nationals in Mumbai and stood 2nd (silver medallist) in India.
– She is currently World no. 2 in Mixed Doubles category and no. 6 in SL3 singles category.