New Delhi: Para-athlete Manasi Joshi, who is riding on a high after winning the gold medal in the recently concluded World Para-Badminton Championships, on Friday lauded Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju for making constant efforts to improve the condition of players in the country.
Joshi had defeated Parul Parmar 21-12, 21-7 to win the gold medal in the women's singles SL3 category. This win was hailed by the Sports Minister and even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had congratulated all the para-athletes for their performance.
"It feels good when PM notices your win, Kiren Rijiju also congratulated me. He is the most dynamic minister, he has helped the para-athletes since he has stepped into the office. He has done constant efforts to help us. I would like to thank the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports," Joshi told ANI.
The 30-year-old was involved in an accident in the year 2011 in which she ended up losing her left leg, but her rise in the sport can be hailed as a story of tremendous grit. Joshi labelled the win as the biggest of her career and hoped that this would just be a stepping stone for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
"I think this is the biggest win of my career. I had to face a lot of difficulties, I was doing three sessions in a day. Two sessions in the morning and one in the evening. Sometimes I was missing my evening session as I was spending time with my prosthetics in Hyderabad," Joshi said.
"This win has definitely encouraged and motivated me. Even the coaches are satisfied with the results and now we are training to showcase good performances in the upcoming tournaments. I am feeling quite important right now as people are constantly messaging me and congratulating me. It feels good to make noise for all the right reasons," she added.
The athlete has seen her fair share of downfalls as she was not able to make it to the 2014 Para-Asian Games. Joshi gave insights on how she got attracted towards the sport of badminton.
"I have been playing this sport since childhood. Availability of sports complex and coaching nearby my house was the main factor behind me taking up the sport. I love the sport, badminton was one that got my attention and I put my best forward in the sport," Joshi said.
Joshi, however, saw this opportunity of highlighting the areas that need to be looked upon for improving the state of para-athletes in the country.
She said that taking up para-sports is not a rewarding profession, so she gave some ideas that can help the state of the game.
"There are many changes that I wish Sports Ministry ends up making. It will take a lot of time. As a para-sportsperson, it is not a rewarding profession. I hope people look into this, more and more brands come in, I hope people start having the knowledge about para-athletes," Joshi said.
"There is a long way to go. Grassroot development of para-sports in the country, making sports stadiums accessible, making infrastructure accessible are the biggest areas that need improvement. If I do not ask, who is going to ask. I would also want the development of prosthetic equipment along with sporting equipment," she added.
On Tuesday, Rijiju handed over cheques worth Rs 1.82 crore to para-badminton world championship winners.
The gold medal winners got Rs 20 lakh each while silver and bronze medallist took home Rs 14 lakh and Rs 8 lakh, respectively. Winners in doubles events were given Rs 15 lakh each for gold, Rs 10.5 lakh each for silver and Rs 6 lakh each for bronze.
Ace shuttler PV Sindhu who became the first Indian to win a gold medal at the BWF World Championships was also awarded Rs 10 lakhs by Rijiju.
Rijiju had said that the para-badminton team brought glory to the country and deserved to be rewarded.
"We want to ensure that all athletes are meted out the same facilities by the government. The para-badminton team has performed very well and brought glory to the country. They deserve to be rewarded for their hard work," Rijiju had said....