International level badminton is expensive. It requires quality equipment, coaching and involves frequent travel. For a Para-athlete, the cost is greater.
“The price of a prosthetic leg for sports is between Rs 30-35 lakh,” Joshi, 30, told ETPanache on the phone from the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad, before leaving for the Denmark Open. “I travel with two prosthetics, one for everyday use and one for playing.”
If for any reason the playing prosthetic does not work, the walking one is used as a backup. “Technical issues do come up,” Joshi said. “It’s difficult to substitute the playing one for walking because that does not have a knee socket. It does not bend.”
Then there is the matter of points required to make it to Tokyo. Moreover, Joshi has to play in the mixed doubles category, as the SL3 singles category, in which she won the World Championships, will not be there in Tokyo. (The SL3 category is for players who are impaired in one or both lower limbs.) Joshi is partnering Para-badminton player Rakesh Pandey. The duo is ranked 13 in the world and need to make the top six to qualify for Tokyo. There are seven tournaments left and every point is important.
Joshi lost her left leg in an accident in 2011. After the amputation, the software engineer played badminton during her rehabilitation and then went on to pursue Parabadminton.
“Every Para-athlete has a different disability, and the equipment varies accordingly,” Joshi said. “Some like me require prosthetics while playing but some might not.”
There has been some support for Joshi the past two years. But more help is always welcome. A few companies have expressed their interest in supporting her after her gold in Basel.
“Mallcom and Welspun have supported me. I hope I get more support and encouragement to keep my Tokyo dream alive,” Joshi said.
Hima, Deepa, Arunima: India's Golden Sports Girls Who've Made Us Proud
Women For The Win
Women in India have taken giant strides, breaking barriers and setting new benchmarks over the past few decades. From business to politics and technology, they have successfully shattered all stereotypes, and glass ceilings.
The sporting arena, too, has seen champions emerging from various corners of India. From fighting gender discrimination to financial restraints, these women have overcome physical and mental obstacles to build not just a name, but a legacy for themselves.
This women's day, we tip our hats to these unstoppable ladies who have become inspiration and icons.
(In pic from left: Hima Das, Deepa Malik, Arunima Sinha)