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EXCLUSIVE Interview: “Don’t let your sexuality or anything else define you,” says Manasi Joshi

Manasi Joshi – A 30-year-old Para badminton player, who tasted the glory of yellow metal at the BWF Para-Badminton championship after defeating Parul Parmar 21-12, 21-7 in finals. Before conquering the final hurdle, if at all, one has to define her, her classic drives, picture-perfect smashes, a delicate drop shot and the unending hunger for wins would be sufficient to hail this sensational player who has conquered the title with utmost authority, hunger, self-belief, authority, and passion. 

In a freewheeling interview, Manasi Joshi, the 30-year-old player opens about her badminton career, future, and a lot more. 

Here are the excerpts of the interview:

Q. You started playing badminton at the age of 8-9. So, was it your own choice to pick racket or was forced upon?

A. To be honest, I was put into many sports by my family. They wanted us (she and her siblings) to be well equipped with every sport. In the initial years, I was getting coaching for football badminton, basketball, and volleyball – but I ended up playing badminton more because I love the racket sport. Fitness and movement test you at every second of the game. Also, the players and coaches at the academy I used to train were extremely agile and always encouraged me. 

Q. You were a full-time software engineer and after losing your leg in road accident in Mumbai 2011, how did you pull yourself into sports? Can you take us through an inspiring journey? 

A. I started playing badminton for fitness and after 2011 amputation; I took badminton as a hobby. I gave myself 2-3 years into it as I wanted to stay fit and not lose hope. It was really challenging in the initial days but honestly, a hobby turned into a profession. 

Q. Who has played the most important role in this memorable journey? 

A. I would say, my family, played the most important role of making me play the sport and kept on pushing me to reach higher echelons. As you know, I am a software professional, I could have just continued with my job and not at all play this game. I was doing well there too, but I didn’t do that. I chose which was different, difficult, and a little unexplored. All this was only possible because of them being the guiding force.  

Q. To the most important one, you defeated Parul Parmar 21-12, 21-7 – while trailing 2-7 in the opening game. How did you make up for it and what were the thoughts going through? 

A. Well, my coaches have already told me that don’t worry about the initial first few points going against you. They say, concentrate on understanding the court and how well are you able to hit. And once you start feeling comfortable about your own game, then you shift to your natural game. I believe that final are completely different than the rest of the games. So initially when I was making a few mistakes, I realized that this is not what I should be doing and once you know what doesn’t need to be done, you eventually end up knowing what needs to be done. I also wanted to try a few new shots that I had learned at the academy and made sure to implement them when they were required the most. 

Q. Last one, one message you would like to give to the young guns who wish to pursue sports? 

A. I will say, we have just one life and do whatever you like to in life. Don’t focus on the results just concentrate on the process. Be it sport, music, dance, education, culture, art – whatever inspires you – just give your heart and soul and work towards it. Don’t let your gender, sexuality, or anything define you to do things that you really love to do.

Ashish Saini
Ashish Saini
Writer, traveler, cricket enthusiast. My blogs take readers on a journey with me.
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