While India celebrates the victory of its daughter PV Sindhu in the badminton World Championship, there is another girl who has made the country proud with a very similar achievement. Manasi Joshi is world champion in para-badminton's SL3 category. Her triumph occurred just a day before Sindhu's crowning as the BWF 2019 World Championship winner.
Joshi comes from a family whose roots lie in Rajkot, Gujarat. But it was during her stay in Mumbai that she first tasted the joy of badminton. At that time, her age was just six. Her father, Girishchandra Joshi, worked in the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
She pursued her studies alongside her passion for badminton and became a graduate in Electronic Engineering from University of Mumbai. She had also been able to do well in district and school-level tournaments. However, tragedy struck in 2011 when she met with a horrible accident where she was hit by a truck.
She suffered serious injuries all over her body, especially in the leg, Due to her injuries in the left leg becoming gangrenous, it had to be amputated. However, the 30-year old wasn't going to give up and after getting a prosthetic limb, decided to get back on the court. The strong-willed lady started participating in the SL3 para-badminton category which involves players who have disability in one or more of their legs.
Interestingly, the person she defeated in the final is also an Indian – Parul Parmer. The latter is a three-time world champion and had defeated Manasi three times already in 2019 and was the favourite to claim the title. However, on the big stage, when it mattered most, Joshi rose to the occasion and clinched the title by winning 21-12, 21-7.
While Sindhu's win was celebrated vigorously and understandably so, as she is the first Indian to win the World Championship, the achievements of the para-badminton squad of India, who won 12 medals in the para-badminton World Championships, didn't get any attention.
However, after one of the medalists, Sukant Kadam, tweeted to the Prime Minister requesting that their achievements also be taken note of, messages of congratulations and admiration began to be posted about them also.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted about the success of the para-badminton team while Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju met the medalists and declared cash awards of Rs 20 lakhs per athlete. He also tweeted pictures of his meeting with them and announced a change in policy which ensures that the prize money is handed over directly to athletes on arrival.
Joshi expressed her happiness at this policy change by tweeting: "What a dynamic change in policy and amendment of new rules for Para sports. Extremely thankful to the Sports Minister @KirenRijiju, @Media_SAI and @ParalympicIndia for inclusive policy implementation."