BWF Para-badminton world champion Manasi Joshi needs no introduction. A born fighter with nerves of steel, Manasi won the world championship in Basel last year. The 30-year-old, who lost a leg in an accident never gave up in life and came out with flying colors. Manasi is spending the lockdown period along with her family after a long gap. Excerpts from an exclusive interview.
On lockdown days
It has impacted us. Luckily, I came back from Hyderabad to my hometown. Our Academy (P Gopichand Academy) was closed on March 14. One of my tournaments scheduled to begin on March 9 was cancelled at the last minute. We had the nationals on March 22. I thought of preparing it from my hometown. A few days later, the tournament was postponed.
I had my kit over here which is an additional help. For a few days, I used to go to my building for training. Once the lockdown started, I did my practicing at home. I am taking small steps to keep well.
We take turns in buying groceries, cooking and cleaning. My family is supportive. I am independent. We are spending time together after one or one and half years. In Hyderabad, I am living in an apartment and I am completely dependent on rikshaws and Uber for transport.
My father is a scientist and my brother is a researcher. We don’t have a sporting background as a profession, but we all have taken up sport to be better people and to understand things differently. My brother plays badminton, my sister is a national level basketball player and my father plays tennis. Luckily sport has given us hope.
On the postponement of the Olympics
Paralympics got delayed by one year. But we are happy that the government is doing this for the safety of the public. We are extending our support as well. It would have been difficult if they kept the Olympics and Paralympics this year. Many countries could not have participated. They have done the right thing.
All the qualifying tournaments are over. I think, one year is a very long time and people do change. Anything can happen in one year. I think BWF will take steps to ensure that the world’s best players will participate. I am looking forward they will add many more tournaments so that the best can qualify. In that case, I think I can also try to qualify. Right now, chances are grim with my rankings and no tournaments.
On setbacks and support
In China, my prosthetics broke, and my partner developed a back injury. It was just one or two tournaments after the world championship. I am hoping for a fast recovery. I am hoping we can qualify for Tokyo through national and international quotas.
Negativity and being a woman
For any athlete, to become a world champion is tough. We must work hard, have patience and keep on playing. I don’t want to get into the gender part but when I started playing this sport, I had a lot of challenges and negative attitude to deal with.
I chose a sport which had no financial security, stability and not much career option. To take up a sport option which does not give any of this and to leave a high-income job to something which is not rewarding was a tough decision. Many people warned me not to take this (profession), but I took it.