She could not hide her tears of joy when she created history at the Tokyo Paralympics!
Meet 34-year-old Bhavina Patel, who stormed into the Gold Medal Match at the table tennis event at the Paralympics.
Why is this achievement special? She is the First Indian to win a medal and enter the finals of table tennis at Paralympics; the Second Indian woman to win a medal at Paralympics and she did all this at her maiden appearance at the Paralympics by beating World Rank #2, 8, 9 to make her way into the Semi-finals. Bhavina fought hard against China’s world no. 3 Miao Zhang and managed to win with a score of 3-2 in a women’s singles class 4 semifinal event. On 29th August, she played against World No. 1 Chinese paddler Ying Zhou with her eyes on the gold medal. But she lost to the stalwart 7-11, 7-11, 6-11.
A proud husband, Nikul Patel says it was his wife’s drive to ‘stand on her feet’ and jump over obstacles were the driving force behind her journey to the silver medal. Bhavina got affected with polio early in her childhood and had to use crutches all her life. She did her schooling in a small village in Gujarat and then moved to Ahmedabad to pursue ITI in a Computer science course. It was during this stage of her life when she found a new passion in table tennis. Bhavina struggled a lot to pursue her new passion including traveling in multiple buses, shared auto-rickshaws, and commuting on crutches in the heavy traffic of Ahmedabad. She was supported by her friend and now husband Nikul, who is a one-time state-level under-19 cricketer and is now running an import-export business.
Their modest two-storeyed home has complete wheelchair access and one of the four rooms has a TT table. Nikul says that Bhavina trained at home for six months during the pandemic. They would ask the coach and other wheelchair players to come home and play against her. Bhavina is a Central government employee with the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation, is an ardent music lover and reputed cook.
Kudos to you, Bhavina – your silver shine make us proud !
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