Why Don’t We Celebrate Our International Para-Athlete Champions?
It’s been a golden year for Indian women athletes. They were in the spotlight, their stories were highlighted and the much-needed awareness towards issues faced by sportswomen was raised. But there are many para-athlete stars who have made the country proud in the sporting arena, and yet were also overlooked. They are no less a powerhouse when it comes to winning medals and championships for the country. While we celebrate the likes of PV Sindhu and Hima Das for their winning streak widely, these athletes with disabilities need as much support in their bid to bring home the medals.
Here’s a look at the top Indian female para athletes who made the country proud by winning multiple accolades.
Manasi Joshi – World Para-Badminton Championship
30-year-old Para-badminton player Manasi Joshi created history by clinching gold at the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships last month.
The Mumbai-born and Gujarat-based software engineer Manasi lost her leg in an accident when she was 22 years old, in December 2011. But it couldn’t shake her confidence, instead, it gave her the nudge and willpower to follow her dreams. She defied all odds and with an artificial leg, she fought her fate and became a para-badminton player. A national and international level para-badminton player, Manasi completed her graduation in Electronics Engineering from KJ Somaiya College of Engineering, University of Mumbai in 2010.
“I earned it. Worked every bit for it,” Manasi tweeted after the win.
Radha Venkatesh and Rakshitha Raju – Asian Para Games 2018
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.
19-year-old Radha won the Bronze medal in the 400 metre track running (covered in 1.07 min) and the silver medal in the 1,500 metre running (covered in 5.72 min). She bagged the 7th position in the World Ranking.
Rakshitha, a 17-year-old, won the gold medal on the 1,500 mt track running (in 5.40 min) and bagged the 10th position in the World Ranking.
Radha is a resident of Chitradurga. She is partially visually impaired and Rakshitha, who is from Chikkamagaluru, has complete impairment. When Radha was in Class 9, she participated at a National Level Championship in Delhi, where she won Gold medals at 100, 400 and 800 mt running. This is when she decided to participate in the Para Olympics with the help of Coach Roshan and Rahul. Both the girls came to Bengaluru and started their training at the Indian Athletic Academy (IAA).
Ramya Shanmugham – Jakarta 2018 Asian Para Games
Mysuru-based Ramya Shanmugham, 24, representing India in the Asian Para Games and won silver medal in the Women’s Javelin-Throw F46 event with a throw of 31.51m in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Earlier, Ramya had represented India in the Faza International Athletics Championships World Para Grand Prix 2018, held at Dubai in March 2018 and won Gold in the women’s Discus-Throw event with a throw of 31.47m. Ramya also won a Bronze Medal in Shot-Put and Javelin-Throw in the same Championships.
Ramya, a BE Mechanical Engineering Graduate, was born with a deformity in her left hand. She is presently employed at a Sports Centre in city. She was inspired by Mysuru’s well-known athlete Mohan Kumar who also coaches her.
Ekta Bhyan – Gold in Club Throw
Para athlete Ekta Bhyan created history by winning gold at the Asian Para Games in Jakarta. She topped in the women’s club throw event. Ekta scored her best throw: 16.02m, winning the F32/51 event. The category features athletes with significant impairment in hand function.
Earlier this year, Ekta earned India two medals, gold and bronze, in club throw and discus throw at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Tunisia. She is also backed with it up with a gold in the Indian Open Para Athletics Championship last year.
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The Haryana civil services officer met with an accident in 2003 that badly damaged her spinal cord, leaving her paralysed from waist down.
Devanshi Satija – Asian Para Games 2018
India also won three bronze from swimming. Devanshi won a Silver medal in 100 metre Butterfly and a silver medal in 100 metre freestyle.
Shalini Saraswathi – 2018 National Para Athletic Championship
Jennitha Anto – the golden warriors of Indian chess
Jennitha Anto made India proud by winning gold medals in the Visually Impaired and Physically Handicapped events at the Asian Para Games held at Jakarta, Indonesia. She also won a silver medal in the Standard event.
Anto hails from Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu who also bagged the IPCA World Women’s title the sixth time this year. Jenitha is a polio survivor and has been wheelchair-bound ever since a very young age. Today, she is a world class chess player.
Some other sports stars who deserve praise are:
The nation is proud!
Feature Image Credit: Dhoolmitti