Girish Sharma is a professional para badminton player.
He is a seven times national champion and in 2015, he was the world number 2 in both singles and doubles for para badminton players.
Girish Sharma’s life story of becoming a very successful para badminton player despite becoming disabled at a young age and facing countless difficulties is very inspiring.
So, read on.
Girish Sharma hails from Rajkot city, Gujarat.
His father is an Indian Railways employee.
Girish Sharma has two brothers.
In 1989, at the age of 2, Girish Sharma went to his grandfather’s house during his summer vacations.
As his grandfather suffered a medical emergency, he was being taken to the hospital in an ambulance.
The little Girish Sharma ran behind the ambulance and unfortunately, he stepped on the railway track and his right leg got struck.
He wasn’t able to pull off his leg and unfortunately, a train passed by crushing his right leg.
Girish Sharma was being taken to the hospital which was far away but as he couldn’t sustain the pain, the doctor amputated his right leg.
Struggling in school-
As Girish Sharma lost a leg, he struggled to go to school.
And for two years, he took the assistance of a person in going to the school.
Since his childhood, Girish Sharma has been very interested in sports.
He used to play sports like cricket and football with his friends and his friends were very supportive of him and they never discriminated against him for his disability.
Love for badminton-
Girish Sharma’s younger brother was a football player.
Once, he accompanied him to a football match and there, by chance he saw a badminton match and instantly fell in love with badminton.
So, Girish Sharma started playing badminton and also took badminton coaching.
As his father worked for Indian Railways, Girish Sharma was able to join the Jagjivanram Railway Institute in Rajkot for receiving badminton training.
Here, he received professional training under Jaydeep Sarvaiya, a professional coach and a former state level player.
As Girish Sharma was playing various sports since his childhood, he didn’t face any difficulty in playing badminton.
Girish Sharma’s childhood dream was to join the Indian Army and serve the nation.
But as he grew up, he learnt that people with disabilities can’t join the army.
After completing his 10th class exams, Girish Sharma decided to represent India in badminton.
So, he started practising and playing this sport with even more dedication.
Support from family-
His family always supported him to play badminton.
But after a year of playing badminton professionally, Girish Sharma’s stump got injured and his father refused to allow him to play the sport.
Thankfully, his coach convinced his father to allow him to play as this would inspire the other disabled people to enter into sports in the future.
Girish Sharma’s coach never differentiated him for being an amputee player and coached him on par with all the other normal players.
The players were also very supportive of him.
Working as a courier boy-
The badminton racket was expensive and Girish Sharma wasn’t in a position to afford it.
So, he worked as a courier boy for three months and with this salary, he purchased his first badminton racket for playing in a national match.
Playing state and national matches-
After taking professional training for four years, in 2006, Girish Sharma played in a state tournament of Gujarat.
Here, he played badminton along with normal people.
While playing here, Girish Sharma learnt that the national tournament for para badminton would be conducted in Bengaluru.
So, he reached Bengaluru and played his first national tournament here.
Receiving training from Rajeev Ganpule-
After playing the national tournament, Girish Sharma realized that he needs professional training on a bigger level.
So, he started receiving training from Rajeev Ganpule in Thane.
Here, Girish Sharma took badminton coaching alongside other famous players like Jishnu Sanyal, Akshay Dewalkar and Pawan Singh.
Rajeev Ganpule inspired him to practice and play only on his one leg without any crutches.
In 2006, Girish Sharma played his first all-India match and qualified for All India Super 6.
In 2007, he defeated the 6th ranker in an All India Super 6 match and subsequently, won gold medals in both doubles and singles.
Girish Sharma started his international career in 2007 by playing his first ever international tournament in Jerusalem, Israel.
He also played another tournament in Israel and in these two tournaments, he won a total of two silver medals in badminton doubles and a bronze medal in badminton singles.
These tournaments happened in March 2007 and on 23 March 2007, Girish Sharma won his first international medal.
In 2008, the Asian Paralympic Cup was conducted in Bengaluru and in this tournament, he won a gold medal and emerged as an Asian champion.
Girish Sharma has represented India in badminton in many countries for more than a decade.
Since the beginning of his career, Girish Sharma has been struggling for sponsorships.
As a result, he struggled to afford the academy fees and even struggled to afford his diet and nutrition.
But the silver lining was that Girish Sharma received some support from his coaches and from a handful of sponsors.
In the majority of cases, he didn’t receive full sponsorships and as a result he missed playing in many tournaments.
Girish Sharma also missed many hours of practice while trying to convince the sponsors.
He didn’t give up even after facing these many difficulties.
From standing to wheelchair-
Initially, Girish Sharma used to play badminton in a standing position and became very versed in it.
Unfortunately, in 2015, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) rules forced him to play in a wheelchair as he got moved to the WH2 (Wheelchair/minor impairment) category.
For Girish Sharma, it is more difficult to play in the wheelchair than in standing position.
Also, previously he was playing exhibition matches in the standing position but when he shifted to wheelchair, playing exhibition matches became impossible.
Many badminton courts didn’t allow Girish Sharma to practice with a wheelchair as they thought that the wheelchair might damage their court.
Also, travelling to the badminton courts and tournaments with the wheelchair is cumbersome.
Adding to the pain, many auto and taxi drivers wouldn’t allow Girish Sharma to travel as they fear that his wheelchair might damage their vehicles’ seats.
So, he would be left with no option except to arrange special transport and this costs him even more.
Even the basic wheelchair costs Girish Sharma around ₹3.5 lakhs.
Luckily, the Aditya Mehta Foundation came forward to help him.
Previously, this foundation also partially sponsored Girish Sharma’s Spain tournament.
A fiber badminton racket costs him around ₹20,000.
Currently, Girish Sharma is also working as a badminton coach in Mumbai.
So, how are you inspired by the success story of Girish Sharma?
Share with me in the comment section below.
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