India’s First Leg-Amputee With Bachelor’s in Sports: My Journey

Injuries are a part of sports and getting blisters on my amputee leg was very common, but that never stopped me.

My Report
3 min read

Video Producer: Saradha Natarajan
Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

It was 2 April 2011. The Indian cricket team lifted the ICC World Cup trophy and made the entire country proud. It was a memorable day for everyone but me, as on the very same day, while on a train on my way back home from Raipur, I met with an accident and it cost me my right leg.

The accident depressed and shattered me. I had no idea what I was going to do. I even had doubts if I would ever be able to walk again. Fortunately, my friends and family motivated and guided me. They told me that I need to shine with my abilities and not look at my disability. This helped me build a career as a para-athlete.

Once I started walking again using a prosthetic leg, I wanted to run, but not stop there. I wanted to sprint. I was always interested in sports and decided that an amputee leg won’t stop me. My goal was the Paralympics.

Manish Pandey, International Para Athlete.
Manish Pandey, International Para Athlete.
(Photo Courtesy: Manish Kumar Pandey)

Coming from a middle-class family, I did not have the funds to buy a blade-prosthetic which is essential for professional para athletes. It costs up to Rs 5 lakh. The Dakshin Rehab Prosthetic company in Hyderabad was kind enough to help me and I got my blade prosthetics in 2013. I immediately started my professional training at the Gachibowli Stadium in the same city. I used to train for four hours a day – two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening.

Injuries are a part and parcel of sports and getting blisters on my amputee leg was very common for me, but that never stopped me from achieving my goals.

The best part of the training was to see other athletes put on their shoes while I put on my blade prosthetic as we trained together.

India’s First Leg-Amputee With Bachelor’s in Sports: My Journey
(Photo Courtesy: Manish Kumar Pandey)

After a year of training, I got selected for my first international tour to Tunisia for the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in 2014. I won two medals in the game, a silver and bronze in 100m and 200m respectively. I missed the gold medal by 0.25 seconds.

India’s First Leg-Amputee With Bachelor’s in Sports: My Journey
(Photo Courtesy: Manish Kumar Pandey)

In October 2014, I got selected for the Asian Para Games and became an international Para Athlete. I participated in 100 m race, long jump and 4x100m relay.

How I Got My Bachelor’s Degree

After becoming a para athlete, I wanted to pursue sports education. In 2015, I joined a one-year sports management course in South Korea where I learned about Sports Management, Sports Physiology and Sports Psychology along with various other subjects related to sports. Then in 2016, I joined a two-week sports management seminar in Kagoshima, Japan.

I then decided to get a bachelor’s degree in sports and came back to India. I started to apply in multiple colleges to pursue my bachelor’s degree but many universities’ prospects stated that a physically challenged student cannot pursue degree in sports. It came as a shock to me because what does being physically challenged has to do with studying sports?

I decided that I need to break this barrier and finish my education.

India’s First Leg-Amputee With Bachelor’s in Sports: My Journey
(Photo Courtesy: Manish Kumar Pandey)

In 2017, Manipal Univeristy in Jaipur offered me a seat and I enrolled myself in a three-year programme. In November 2020, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree.

I became the first leg-amputee in India to complete a bachelor’s degree in sports.

Currently, I am enrolled in South Korea's number one university ie Seoul National University to complete my masters in Global Sports Management commencing March 2021.

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