Sanjeev lives the impossible everyday. He plays a game that is known for its agility and quickness, effortlessly on a wheelchair! And to add to it, he has consistently won medals and ranks 7th on the list of the top 10 para shuttlers in the world by the Badminton World Federation!
Sanjeev, who is confined to the wheelchair since childhood due to polio in his right leg, took up badminton under the guidance of Surinder Mahajan, after a short stint in Cricket. A passionate cricketer, Sanjeev soon realised that his talent lay not in a team sport, but in a sport where he could play independently. The skill and speed with which he plays badminton on a wheelchair is a sight you will only have to see to believe, but Sanjeev’s hard work and effort is evident in his achievements.
Sanjeev has won 18 Gold medals, 3 Silver medals and 2 Bronze medals in various National Championships so far. He reached the quarter final of the Asia cup with hardly one year of practice and won the World Paralympic Games.
What Sanjeev has achieved in 10 years is remarkable, not only because he is differently abled but also because he has managed to stay persistent despite lack of resources and support. Ever since he took to badminton, he has been pooling in funds himself to train. In fact, during his initial games he had to borrow his wheelchair from another player to compete. He won the World Paralympic games all by himself without any coaching. And, he lost the Asian Para-Games in China in 2010 by a small margin because of not having a proper wheelchair.
Due to his disability, he faces issues with finding a full-time job to support himself and often has to miss out on crucial competitions due to lack of money. With a strong belief in his talent, his coach provides him training for free but it is still difficult for Sanjeev to manage accommodation in Chandigarh near his training center.
"Earlier I could depend on my family to help me a little but since my father was paralysed, I have had to fend for my myself," Sanjeev told us.
But, when the Para-badminton Championship in Uganda came close, Sanjeev knew this was an opportunity he couldn’t miss. He asked his friends and family for little amounts of money to fund his trip. As a result, Sanjeev was able to fund his trip - where he proved that he was worth his mettle by becoming the First Indian para-badminton player to win Gold at the Para-badminton Championship!
Sanjeev says that now his sole aim is to win at Tokyo. His wheelchair is his greatest setback to winning. “My wheelchair is 7 years old.. I have to be very careful on it. Sometimes I fear the wheels might come off,” Sanjeev informed us. To play badminton that requires swift movements, Sanjeev definitely needs a better quality wheelchair which is also much lighter than the one he is using now. “Internationally, my competitors use an 8 kg wheelchair whereas I have a 24 kg wheelchair, this gives them an advantage over me.” A new 8 kg wheelchair will cost Sanjeev Rs. 4 lacs! Apart from that he has to compete in at least two international tournaments to better his ranking for Tokyo!
The upcoming tournaments Sanjeev aims to win are:
1) Para-Badminton International in USA (October 2017)
2) BWF Para-Badminton World Championship in South Korea (November 2017)
Sanjeev requires Rs. 8, 32,500 to win at Tokyo!
Here’s how you can empower Sanjeev:
1) Fund Sanjeev’s training, nutrition, costumes and travel costs by contributing generously to this fundraiser
2) Share the fundraiser with your friends and family on social media, Whatsapp or email
3) Start a Support Fundraiser to pool in money from your friends, family, colleagues and others in your network
Empower Sanjeev to shuttle his way to a Gold at the Tokyo Paralympics!