Last year, para-badminton player Manasi Joshi clinched her first gold at the BWF Para World Championships in Basel, Switzerland. Her inspiring story of finding a new purpose in life after losing a leg shows the power of determination and persistence.
When life threw Manasi a curveball, she didn’t let it knock her down. Rather, she brushed herself off and kept moving forward.
In 2011, one day when Manasi was on her way to work, she didn’t know that her life was about to change forever. A truck crossed over her leaving her with a crushed left leg, broken arms, and multiple other injuries.
While recalling what happened next, Manasi shared with sources:
“I was surrounded by people – be it police or passers-by. Everybody wanted to help, but nobody knew how. I was conscious and aware of my injuries.
I can see that my hands are broken, my leg is crushed. I was like, ‘Koi phataphat hospital le chalo.’ (Somebody quickly take me to the hospital).
But even after lying on the road for half an hour, the ambulance never showed. Finally, I called home on my cell phone to request help from my family,”
As she was crying for medical help, you would be disgusted to know what bystanders did! One man stole her helmet whereas another recorded videos on his phone. She further added:
“I was lying in a pool of blood and it was entertainment for him,” she seethes. “What could I do? I had to tell him. I also needed some entertainment, lying there like that. The situation is really bad, but I had to retain my wits so I didn’t die.”
Though Manasi experienced the brutality of humanity, at the same time she met a few really great souls that supported her during her testing time.
One of those great souls was a girl, who immediately got down from the bus when she saw Manasi. This blessed soul not only called hospital emergency services but also stopped almost every passing car to request them to give a lift to the nearest hospital. But the car-owners refused as they didn’t want to get their vehicles dirty.
The accident took place at 8:30 am but it wasn’t before 6:30 pm that she made it to the operating theatre.
This delay only increased the complications. Manasi was operated for 12 hours as gangrene set in her leg. There was no other option but to amputate.
Recalling her trauma, she shared:
“At the time I was thinking that I have just lost a leg, not an organ. If I can’t run around, it’s okay. I knew about the advancements in the prosthetic industry, and my faith in technology was absolute. In the ICU, I told the doctor that I wanted a microprocessor-based prosthetic.”
Being hopeful about the future, Manasi never let her hardships break her spirit. And, it was in 2012, she participated in the inter-company badminton championship and won gold.
She recollects how she found her confidence in that particular moment:
“I went crazy with euphoria. That gave me the confidence I needed to test my limits and a whole new world of opportunities opened up,”
Ever since Manasi stepped foot in international events from 2015, she has managed to get the best out of herself. She won a silver in mixed doubles in the 2015 Worlds, then bronze in 2016 women’s singles, and then 2017 World championship bronze and a gold in a Spanish international event and bronze in the 2018 women’s singles at the Para-Badminton International event.
Recalling her biggest challenge, she shared,
“Well, the biggest challenge for me is the society itself. It is sad that many still treat para-athletes as lesser mortals though things have, of late, changed a lot thanks to the performances by our tribe at the highest level”
She further added:
“I firmly believe that para-athletes too are intelligent and knowledgeable and can be role models for young talent given the way they fight adversity to win laurels at the highest level,”
Manasi’s spirit has helped her face life’s curveballs with grace and resilience. Her advice to people facing challenges of their own:
“I think everything comes down to mindset. We have the power to deal with whatever life throws at us. Using patience to evaluate the situation is crucial.
We don’t need somebody else to tell us what to do. In fact, take well-meaning advice with a pinch of salt. What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. You have to find your own solution in your own way.
Take your time, cry if you need to. But then have faith that you are the answer to your adversity.”
Last year, Manasi brought home her first gold at the Para World Badminton Championship by defeating three-time SL3 world champion, Parul Parmar. Speaking to the Paralympic Committee of India, Manasi said,
“I have trained extremely hard, training three sessions a day. The focus was on my fitness, so I also lost some weight and gained more muscle. I spent more time in the gym, working six sessions a week.”
And, recently, Manasi got a ‘one-of-a-kind’ barbie doll modeled after her. It was done with the hope to encourage young girls to realize their true potential. This act was applauded across the social media
Thank you @Barbie, it’s incredible to have an OOAK Barbie Doll modeled after me. I believe education around inclusion & diversity should start early & I hope that my story encourages young girls to harness their true potential & become whoever they set out to be#YouCanBeAnythingpic.twitter.com/r7UTLzLiTY