Badminton gives me a reason to hold my head high - My Take by ex-soldier & para shuttler Prem Kumar Ale
Disability can happen to any one of us at any time. Getting the right support and having the right attitude can make all the difference. This week's My Take by champion para-badminton player Prem Kumar Ale is a lesson in that. This former Indian Army soldier was left a paraplegic in an accident. How he fought back through hopelessness and depression is an inspiring story.
I took up badminton at the advise of my guru, N B Gurung. I was looking at the sports that I could play when he suggested that I try out badminton.
His advise came at a point in my life when I was at the lowest. I was in the Indian Army and when I was on duty, I got involved in an accident in March 2009. I was cycling back to my unit in the Delhi Cantonment when I was hit by a speeding bus. The accident left me with severe spinal injuries and I had to use a wheelchair.
My head was filled with negative thoughts, I lost all hope and thought there was no point in going on. Suddenly my life had changed. I used to be an active man and in a wheelchair, that part of my life felt like it was over. It is so difficult to move around anywhere in a wheelchair.
At some point while I was undergoing treatment at the Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre in Pune, I found badminton.
At the centre, coach Aniket Singh Mehra taught me for a while and then later I started training under some other coaches five days a week regularly at the Pune District Metropolitan Badminton Association.
In December 2013, after just a few months of training, I took part in the national championships. I won a gold there in the Class 1(wheelchair) doubles playing with my partner Suresh Kumar Karki. That win gave me a lot of confidence.
So far I have won 13 gold medals, seven silver medals and one bronze medal. I have also represented India in 2015 in the Spain International Open Tournament where I won a bronze medal. Some of my other achievements are a silver in the 2015 Indonesia Open.
Currently I am training for the Asian Para Games in Jakarta in October. I think my strengths in the game are my defence tactics. I am very conscious about my fitness and I train five days a week with my coaches.
Now and then when I hit a negative point, I get inspired by my guru N B Gurung as well as my coaches. Thanks to badminton, I have the opportunity to represent my country and live with my head held high.
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