A robot with advanced features was at hand when longtime trainer “Lallan ji” (Lalan Doshi) was not.
But a Paralympic medal (could be gold) probably would have gone a long way without the initial interest of Bhavinaben Patel giving way to passion, and passion giving way to obsession with table tennis.
Diagnosed with polio at the age of 12 months, the 34-year-old is now writing history at will, having become the first Indian to make the final of a table tennis event in the centerpiece.
“I first played the sport for fun, but a bronze medal at a national level club event in Delhi made me think I can do well in the best national and international tournaments.
“I became passionate about the sport and soon found myself obsessed with the sport,” Patel told PTI from Tokyo, where she is taking giant strides.
“The obsession with table tennis has reached a point where eating, eating and sleeping have taken a back seat in my life,” she added.
On Saturday, she was rewarded with a sensational result which surprised even the Indian camp at these Paralympic Games by stunning her Chinese opponent world number three 7-11 11-7 11-4 9-11 11-8 in the confrontation in semi-final which lasted 34 min.
She considers a move to Ahmedabad to learn IT as the turning point in her life, as her manners, way of speaking and purpose in life – all has changed for the good.
“Before that, I didn’t know that a game like TT existed since I lived in a small village. But things changed so much after I came to Ahmedabad. The way I speak now is due to my time in Ahmedabad. The dialect was different in my village. “
Patel started playing the sport 15 years ago at the Vastrapur Region Association of Blind People in Ahmedabad, where she was a student at the ITI (Indian Training Institute) for People with Disabilities.
There she saw visually impaired children playing table tennis and decided to take up the sport.
She won her first medal in a competition while representing the Rotary Club of Ahmedabad where she is now based after her marriage to Nikul Patel, who played junior cricket for Gujarat.
Speaking of the robot she owns through the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), she said, “I got the robot from TOPS in 2020. It has helped me improve my game. It is a very advanced robot. with advanced features. It throws the ball at you like a simulation … otherwise Lallan sir was there most of the time to practice. “
The machine costs Rs 4 lakh.
Upon her introduction to the sport, she added: “The bronze medal at the national level made me take it seriously. I figured if I could win a bronze medal without too much preparation, I could do more with proper training.
“From there I played TT all day. The director of our institute (ITI) got me involved and we were coached by Lallan ji.”
“I came to Ahmedabad in 2004-05 to take a computer course … The first turning point in my career was in 2011 when I won a silver medal in an international tournament in Bangkok. But I took TT seriously in 2008, ”added fan Sachin Tendulkar.
She also thanked her husband and other family members for supporting her in her quest to fulfill her dream of winning a medal at the top competition.
Daughter of Hasmukhbhai Patel, a small trader from Sundhiya village in Mehsana district in Gujarat, she was not considered a bright prospect for a medal for the Games.
She will face world number one Chinese paddler Ying Zhou in the summit clash on Sunday and if her form is any indication, the Indian can certainly win the top prize.
In the quarterfinals on Friday, Patel defeated Rio 2016 Paralympic Games winner and world number two Borislava Peric Rankovic of Serbia.
Class 4 athletes have proper seated balance and fully functional arms and hands. Their involvement may be due to an injury to the lower spinal cord or to cerebral palsy.