Mark Dharmai Fought All Odds to Become Para Badminton’s World No 3

Lack of funds forced Mark to give up badminton and join his father on the fishing boat in Mumbai.

Updated
Sports
3 min read
Mark Dharmai achieved a world ranking of 10th in the men’s singles category. (Photo: Rhythum Seth/<b>The Quint</b>)

“A disability doesn’t need to define your life.”

These are the words of Mark Dharmai, a 4-foot-2-inch sportsman who defied all odds to make his mark in the world of Para Badminton.

The 32-year-old was born with a severe disability, wherein his legs were twisted on the outside, to a fisherman in Mumbai’s Chambai village in Bandra.

Mark was born to a fisherman in Mumbai’s Chambai village in Bandra. (Photo Courtesy: fueladream.com)
Mark was born to a fisherman in Mumbai’s Chambai village in Bandra. (Photo Courtesy: fueladream.com)

He had a tough childhood but completed his schooling from St Andrews and then graduated from the same institution. His mother’s positive influence, however, plunged him into sports, which he said, “always fascinated him”.

My childhood was a very traumatic one, especially for my mother who is a saint.  Despite all the challenges, she has brought me up. Instrumental in the induction of sport has been my uncle and cousin, both of whom are accomplished able-bodied football and hockey players.  But unlike them, I have excelled in badminton, discuss and shot put.
Mark Dharmai
Mark now participates in tournaments across the world. (Photo Courtesy: fueladream.com)
Mark now participates in tournaments across the world. (Photo Courtesy: fueladream.com)

Without any formal training, Mark went on to win a National championship among other laurels. However, lack of funds soon forced him to give up badminton and join his father on the fishing boat.

I took to Badminton because of the challenges that l faced with my lower body disability.  It is actually an acute deformity.  Playing an individual sport was the only option because members of our dwarf community have very low self-esteem, remain closeted and underground, and are spread-out over the country.

It was then that Mark’s friends and community members came forward to sponsor him and hence, his journey resumed.

The 32-year-old braved the odds went on to achieve a world ranking of 10th in the men's singles category, and world ranking of 3rd in the men's doubles and mixed doubles category.

(Photo Courtesy: fueladream.com)
(Photo Courtesy: fueladream.com)

This year, Mark has to represent India in 5 tournaments for which he needed help.

He then teamed up with fueladream.com to fund two tournaments through a campaign highlighting his achievements, his plight and his need for funds.

With an extraordinary response, they raised close to Rs 4 lakh in the first five days. The goal of the campaign has now been extended to Rs 8.85 lakh – additional funds which will now be used for two more events.

To help Mark achieve his dream, visit fueladream.com for more details.

I’ve never considered giving up my dream, whatever roadblocks have plagued the way. I hope to make India proud, but I also hope to inspire people – a disability doesn’t need to define your life. The only person in control of your destiny is you.

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