Johan Cryuff once said, “The disabled people that do sport, they don't think about what they don't have but try to get better with what they do have”. This was the first thought that came to our mind when we met Rekha, a national level paraplegic athelete.
Rekha hails from a small village of Haryana. Due to lack of proper healthcare facilities in her hometown, Rekha contracted Polio when she was a year old. Her family then decided to shift to Delhi to get her proper treatment. Earlier, Rekha had issues in one leg. Wrong medical treatment left both of her legs almost paralysed.
A surgery at the age of 13 improved Rekha’s condition, but below the waist her body remained quite weak. Most people think that life is restricted due to paralysis. However, her disability did not dampen her spirits.
Rekha successfully completed her graduation in 2000. Like any other college graduate, Rekha applied for a number of jobs. However, for a paraplegic individual, challenges do not end at getting a job. Issues like inaccessible modes of transportation and workplaces play a very important role in employment decisions.
Added to that, lack of adequate community sensitization towards the disabled. After months of struggling, Rekha finally landed a job in an export house in Rohini which was perfect given her condition. But, it seemed like Rekha’s life had become a great example of Murphy’s Law. Bad luck was not ready to leave her side any time soon. 8 months into her job, Rekha met with an accident. This incident scared her family deeply and Rekha had to leave her job and sit at home due to family pressure.
Rekha’s “never give up” attitude did not allow her to sit idle and let her life go to waste. Two years back, she learnt about paraplegic Athletics through a Facebook friend common friend. “A friend of mine asked me to accompany her to an event for paraplegic athletes. When I saw them in the field, I felt like I can do this.
There was will, but I did not know the way”, she recalls. After some time spent gaining knowledge on the technicalities of Shot Put and Discus Throw, Rekha started practicing on her own and hasn’t looked back since. She has already won two bronze and a silver medal at the state and national level.
However, getting a new wheelchair for the next National Games wasn’t an economically viable option for her. With the help of Wheels for Life, Rekha now owns a wheelchair, giving herself the freedom to live life on her own terms. Currently, a national level silver medallist, Rekha aspires to wheel her way to victory at the next Paralympics.
We are certain she will succeed in her future endeavours because for people like Rekha, the sky is the limit.