A medical blunder – a wrong dose of vaccine forced an amputation of her right arm – when she was three-year-old. But, at 17, Bruna Alexandre is in the mood to only look ahead, clearly determined to script another story of triumph over adversity in the world of sport.
There was no doubt that she was the focal point for the handful of spectators, who trooped into the venue of the world juniors table tennis championship in Hyderabad on Sunday. For the simple reason that Bruna was not only braving a major disability (playing with one hand) but also seemed to be least ruffled by this adversity.
“I don’t give really a thought to this problem (referring to her hand). I just want to go there and enjoy the game,” says Bruna, who took to the sport at the age of eight when she accompanied her brother and mentor Bruno.
For the remarkably composed paddler, who hails from the south of Brazil, this is her maiden world championship and is apparently keen to make an impact. Earlier, she used to keep the racket in the 'armpit' and toss the ball with the left-hand but had to dispense that because it racket was getting wet and not giving her the desired grip. The way she tosses up the ball to serve - holding the racket and ball in her left hand – was a touching scene as combined grit and ease. “It took two months of real tough training to master this art and I am grateful to my first coach Alexandre Ghizi,” she gently reminds.
Lincon Yasuda, Brazil coach believes that Bruna has the game to go to places. "She is good both in attack and defence and is remarkably cool," he says.
For her part, Bruna has already started dreaming big – to win a Paralympics gold and also represent Brazil in the 2016 Summer Olympics which will be Rio (Brazil). “There is no better feeling than to represent your country in Olympics,” says this young paddler, who drew inspiration from another differently-abled star Natalia Partyka of Poland.
Not surprisingly, Bruna’s loves football too and is a big fan of Kaka. “Oh! I love watching him in action,” she says with a big smile.