Sheer determination drives shuttler on one leg

By Saumojyoti Singha Choudhury, IANS

New Delhi : He is India’s no.1 badminton player, but for him winning is not everything as in every loss he gets the opportunity to learn something new about the game. Girish Sharma is the country’s top and world’s No. 2 badminton player in L1 (physically-challenged, in sports parlance) category.

Support TwoCircles

The 21-year-old from Rajkot lost his opening round qualifying match at the Pramod Mahajan All-India ranking tournament here Tuesday, but seemed undeterred by the loss.

“Winning or losing a match doesn’t matter to me as I don’t play for any consequence. I just play to learn and at the end of the day see how many points I have earned against my opponent. That gives me immense pleasure,” Girish told IANS.

Girish, a 10th standard student of the S.A. Choudhury High School, Rajkot, lost his right leg in a train accident when he was two.

He started playing badminton recently, after he went to watch a state level tournament in his hometown and fell in love with the game.

“Though I was interested in sports from my childhood, I never played badminton. I was always interested in cricket and football.

“Badminton just happened by an accident when in 2005 I went to see a state level tournament in Rajkot with a few of my friends and then and there I got fascinated by the game,” he said.

Since 2005 Girish is a regular at all the national ranking tournaments – for the physically challenged as well as in open tournaments.

He has even been overseas to participate in international tournaments in the World Ranking Badminton tournament for the disabled held in Israel last March where he won a silver medal.

Then he went to Bangkok for the World Championships in this category and made it to the quarter-finals.

Girish feels the status of physically challenged sportspersons in other countries is much better than it is in India.

“In other countries, the governments have made separate facilities for disabled sportspersons, and that inspires many to take up sports as a career.

“There are stadiums and coaches especially for the disabled and there are sponsors too to promote them. Here the facilities are not adequate and the government should take initiative to develop sports for the disabled,” Girish said.

The young player has proved many sceptics wrong by taking part in open championships. “I derive more pleasure playing on the normal circuit than in the tournaments for the disabled,” he says.

“I play in both the categories, I have a direct entry in the disabled category while I have to qualify for the normal tournaments. Playing in the normal category gives me more pleasure because it’s a totally different feeling.”

Girish trains under Srikant Vad at Thane’s Dadaji Stadium. His next assignment is the All India Super Six tournament in Orissa and he is confident of winning the event comfortably.