My disability is a blessing in disguise | Arati Patil

Arati Janoba Patil is an Indian Para-badminton player, currently ranked 10th in the Para-Badminton World Rankings for Women's Singles SU5. Born in Nandgad village in Karnataka, India, Arati actually started playing sports in 2008 as a runner. It was then in 2009 when she decided to pick up a racket and started her career as a badminton player.

The following year, she started playing at the national level. However, it wasn’t until 2017 that she saw success at the international level. She won a silver medal at her very first International competition with her partner Arbaaz Ansari at the Asian Youth Para Games held in Dubai, UAE!

Her determination and hard work paid off as she went on to win tournaments. In 2018 she grabbed a bronze medal at the Victor-Denmark Para-badminton held in Denmark and then again in 2019 at the Uganda Para badminton International!

Because of her success, she was among 21 players chosen to represent India in the 2019 World Para-Badminton Championship in Switzerland. This year, she’s also participated in the Brazil and Peru Para-Badminton International.

Her success doesn’t come easy. She mentions the sacrifices her family had to take: “In the past, my father had taken loans, while my mother sold her jewelry to fund my tours. There have also been philanthropists and well-wishers who have come forward to help me, but the requirements are yet to be met”. But Arati doesn’t give up easily. She says “However, this has not discouraged me in any way. I am hopeful, and I am practicing hard for the tournaments.”

Belagavi-born para-badminton champion Arati Patil’s usual day starts with ground training, followed by a physio session and then four-hour badminton practice. She was training hard for the BWF Thailand Para-Badminton International 2019, which was scheduled to be held between September 14 and 21 in Bangkok, and the BWF China Para-Badminton International 2019, which was slated to take place between September 24 and 29 in Hangzhou.

But the 22-year-old differently-abled sports star, who has won medals at international tournaments earlier, is still struggling to arrange money for her to participate in the upcoming events. “I would need at least Rs 3 lakh for my travel and stay. I have managed to put together a little over Rs 2 lakh only,” says Arati, who is currently ranked number 10 among world para-badminton players.

Born in Nandgad village in Belagavi’s Khanapur Tehsil, Arati started off her sports journey in 2008 as a runner. In 2009, she began playing badminton. In 2010 she started playing badminton at the national level; graduating to the international stage in 2017. Although born with only one arm, she has proved her mettle in various para-badminton championships across the globe. In 2017, she won a silver medal in Dubai, and bronze medals in Denmark (2018) and Uganda (2019).

I am hopeful, and I am practicing hard for the tournaments.” In fact, her younger sister, Apeksha, had to give up on her dreams to become a professional kabaddi player so that Arati could pursue her goal.

Ask her about her favorite badminton player, and Arati says that she likes Saina Nehwal more than PV Sindhu. Currently training at Uchgaon village in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur district, the badminton champ considers her disability a plus point. “If I had both my arms, I probably wouldn’t have trained so hard. My disability is a blessing in disguise. It inspires me to face my challenges more fiercely,” Arati sums up.

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