Winning against odds

GRIT & DETERMINATION: Spunky tale of human spirit

GRIT & DETERMINATION: Spunky tale of human spirit  

Disability in the country has always been a curse and a neglected area far removed from the policy-makers' minds with few opportunities provided to make them able. Yet, despite the odds being heavily stacked against them there have been instances when the human spirit has triumphed.

Badminton champion V. Anjana Reddy is certainly one of them. This paraplegic hailing from a remote village in Karimnagar district has bagged the singles and doubles crown at the recently held All India Badminton Tournament for the Physically Challenged organised by the Commonwealth Disabled Sports Association of India at Bangalore last week.

A businessman by profession, Anjana Reddy achieved this distinction by playing from his wheelchair. In the doubles, he partnered his friend, M. Srinivas Rao, a polio-afflicted person working as a mechanic in the APSRTC, to bag the first position.

What makes their achievement astounding is that this duo does not have proper badminton courts to practice in their native place. And, they have to play with normal players when they pick up the racquet near their residences. "I was an active badminton player till I was crippled and took to playing after a gap of 15 years,'' says Anjana Reddy.

An active student leader in college days, he suffered a spinal cord injury during a road mishap in the late 80s while he was travelling in a lorry. Anjana Reddy, an office-bearer in the Paralympic Association of A.P. had earlier won medals in the shot put and discuss at a disabled sports meet in 1998.

``Very few disabled people are aware that sports are held for them which is a pity as it is an excellent opportunity for them to visit other places and meet different people,'' he points out.

No wonder, he and his friend were the only people representing the State at their personal expense at the national meet and had absolutely no help from any of the sports bodies.

``Other players had track suits with the States' name embossed on them but we took part in our individual capacity,'' he sighs. The badminton champ (08728-70177) did try to approach the Sports Authority of A.P. once but gave up since "the office is inaccessible to the disabled.''

Anjana Reddy has written to officials and the Chief Minister himself on providing barrier-free environment at least in public buildings eliciting no response. "Hospitals are the only places we (disabled) feel assured as they at least have a ramp and a stretcher...''

With his recent victory, the champ was selected to represent the country in the badminton World Cup for the disabled also to be held in Bangalore in December later this year where players from 32 countries are expected to participate. Time for the policy makers to stand up for those who can't.

By V. Geetanath

Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

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