When you meet Parul, the first thing you notice is her effortless smile that instantly puts you at ease. She has no trace of pride or ego-she was a part of the Indian Para Badminton team that recently created history by winning 11 medals at the BWF Para Badminton World Championship in the UK. "I know I'm already in my forties but I am very keen to go the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 (it's the first time Para-Badminton is being included in the Paralympics) and I'm training very hard for it," she says with a determination that's palpable.
Parul was afflicted with polio on her right leg when she was three years old and within six months of being diagnosed, she fell from a swing, fracturing her collar bone and the affected leg. "The bone didn't attach right and I had a strong limp in my right leg. It took two major operations to get my foot to straighten out." On the advice of doctors who prescribed exercise, her father, who was a national level badminton player from the state, decided to teach her the game. "He would take me to Ahmedabad every single day (from Gandhinagar, 23 km away) for massages to strengthen my leg. Sometimes due to lack of sponsorships he would borrow money just to make sure I could go and win the games and I did, for my father."