Paralysed At 18 To Becoming A Para-Athlete At 30; Meet Haryana’s Ekta Bhyan Who Won Gold For India
When 18-year-old Ekta met with an accident in 2003 that left her tied to a wheelchair for life, little did she know that years later, she would be winning medals for the country on a global stage.
Ekta shot to fame when she made her state, Haryana proud after winning at the National Games in 2016 and then another silver at the Grand Prix in Berlin in the same year. Two years later, her winning streak continues. Ekta won a bronze and a gold medal in discus and club throw respectively, at World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Tunisia in June 2018. Not just that, but she has also qualified for club and discus throw in the Asian Games which are to be held in Indonesia in October 2018.
She has attained what many would consider to be a distant dream. Talking to The Logical Indian, from Hisar, Haryana, Ekta recounts her journey from being paralysed at 18 to becoming a champion para-athlete at 30.
The accident that changed Ekta Bhyan’s life
Ekta’s story revolves around two accidents which defined her life’s trajectory. The first left her paralysed while the second shot her to fame in the sports world. Growing up, Ekta, aspired to become a doctor. On the very first day of her journey to a coaching institute for medical entrance exams in Delhi, her vehicle met with an accident. Recounting her experience, Ekta said, “Our vehicle was parked while the driver was changing the car’s tyre. However, an overloaded vegetable truck overturned and fell on the stationary car.” There were seven girls in the car, five of whom died on the spot. Ekta survived but sustained severe and life-threatening injuries to her spinal cord which left her paralysed below the shoulders.
“I was then taken to the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, which specialised in cases like mine,” she added. Ekta’s battle from here on is what defines her today. After undergoing three surgeries and having completed nine months in the hospital trying to relearn simple tasks like sitting, she was discharged. Like many patients who were admitted along with Ekta, the world was a different place than what it was nine months ago. However, the hospital ensured her preparedness for the challenges that were to come her way in the future. She said, “The real challenge was after returning home from the hospital when I had to do things on my own.”
With constant affection and support from her parents, an undeterred Ekta decided to resume her studies. She enrolled herself at a government college in Hisar for a BA in English Honors and after three years, emerged as one of the toppers from the college. “This not only boosted my motivation but prompted me to do more and get a job,” she said. She went on to complete her Master’s and a Bachelor in Education. However, Ekta wanted more and was determined to get a job.
Between 2008 and 2013, Ekta, while working as an auditor at the Food and Supplies Department of Haryana, also prepared for state civil service exams. After a failed first attempt in 2009, she finally cleared Haryana Civil Services (HCS) in 2013.
Ekta’s entry into sports
Her entry into sports is nothing short of a fluke or an accident. After clearing the civil service exams, she was interviewed by a newspaper. This interview, Ekta said, circulated on Whatsapp, and it finally reached Arjun awardee and Paralympian Amit Kumar Saroha, who later became her coach. Ekta said, “I got a call from him where he asked me if I wanted to join sports or not.” Saroha has also played a monumental role in giving Ekta more confidence to the point where she even took up the opportunity. Never before this, did Ekta even imagine herself as a sportswoman, let alone win medals on an international platform.
In this journey, Ekta received immense support from her family especially parents who pushed her to take up new challenges. After intense training of three years in club and discuss throw, Ekta won her first gold and bronze medals at the National Games. International fame came after she won silver in club throw at Grand Prix in Berlin and then in 2018 another gold and bronze in Grand Prix in Tunisia. She is presently eyeing the Asian Games 2018 which is set to be held in October and said that she also wishes to compete in the Paralympics soon.
Ekta’s international ranking in club throw is sixth while in Asia she is at the number one spot. For Discus throw, she stands in the fifth position internationally while securing the number one position in Asian rankings. She said, “Everyone just talks about the wins and not the dedication, determination and hard work that went behind it.” However, she says that regular training is a must and hence, Ekta trains for three hours every day after finishing her day job as an employment officer in Hisar. She also travels to Sonipat over weekends to train under her coach.
The Logical Indian Take
True, if it weren’t for hard work, determination and an ever-positive outlook, Ekta wouldn’t have been able to achieve what she has. Ekta, with her excellence in sports, has not only brought acclaim to India but is sure to inspire many like her. The Logical Indian applauds her efforts in overcoming what many consider to be a “challenge” and wishes her the best for future.