World title proved nothing was impossible for para-shuttler Manasi Joshi

Training under Pullela Gopichand, the Indian para-badminton player won the 2019 world title in women’s singles SL3 category in Switzerland.

By Naveen Peter

For Manasi Joshi, her world para-badminton title victory in Basel, Switzerland a year ago was justification for choosing to pursue her dreams.

Since her switch to para-badminton after losing her left leg in a motorbike accident in 2011, Manasi faced criticism for her passion to play at a professional level.

The 31-year-old software engineer told Olympic Channel, "In the past, there were many occasions when people told me that a physically challenged person cannot win gold. That I shouldn’t be participating in competitions like these. I should stop playing badminton because it’s a high-grade disability to work with.

"I heard so many negative things about me wanting to pursue a career in badminton that it made the journey tough. That gold, in a way, helped me snub the naysayers." - Manasi Joshi

Joshi reflects on her success

The Indian para-shuttler claimed her maiden world title in August last year.

But for Manasi Joshi, the memory remains fresh in her mind.

“I think It was really important for me to have that kind of exposure. I was also fortunate to have Gopi sir (Pullela Gopichand) by my side at the Worlds,” said Joshi who triumphed in the women’s singles SL3 category.

“He (Gopichand) would barely miss any of my matches. That played a key role too. When you have such a big coach sitting beside you for your matches gives you the confidence to go and do well."

For Manasi Joshi, the forced break due to COVID-19 pandemic has been a blessing in disguise. Photo: BWF/ Alan Spink

Limelight on para sports

Manasi believes her win has also helped generate interest in para sports - in particular, para-badminton - and about people who are physically challenged in India.

She says she is happy to be driving this change.

"There are people now talking about things like prosthetics and other related topics, something that you wouldn’t have seen happen a few years ago. And I am happy that I am part of this movement."

She has had to change her plans with COVID-19 delaying the Tokyo Paralympic Games, but she is not downhearted at all.

"I think it’s been a blessing in disguise. I came into 2020 on the back of a hectic season. So, this break has helped me in a way," said Manasi, who won bronze at the 2018 Para Asian Games.

"Yes, I have been missing my skill workouts on the court, but then I got time to fix my broken prosthetics. I could procure a new foot shell. I got my liner replaced as well.

"I have had enough time to recover, recollect and work on areas that I wanted to but never got enough time since I was travelling and competing."