Battling odds to corner glory

Neeraj George Baby

Just a month after being diagnosed with the deadly Osteosarcoma – a type of bone tumour – young Neeraj was given two choices – either sacrifice your left leg or lose your life.

Completely broken and shattered, Neeraj chose the former. The threat of tumor was put away, but his decision curbed the dreams of a teenager itching to participate in sports with his friends.

“I still remember the day when the doctor called me to his room and told me of my condition,” recalled Neeraj at the KBA courts here on Saturday. “It was June 12, 1996. I thought for a while, and made a choice what many would have done with that disease. Although, I am still alive, the years following the surgery has been extremely painful.

“I just could not do what other normal kids of my age would do. It was difficult, but then I realised, there is no point in sulking. I decided to fight the odds and really happy with what I’ve achieved.”

Without losing his heart, Neeraj realised the potential of his sharp brain and switched his focus to academics. Excelling in school and college, Neeraj hit upon badminton in 2007, and the passion soon became his profession.

Today, the multiple national champion has participated in three international events, and the BMSTL 2a category shuttler will be representing India in the Paralympic World Championship, to be held in Gautemala City from Nov 19-26. “It’s like a dream come true.

I’ve never expected to rise to this level. Years of hard work and struggle is paying off. I hope to make my country and sponsors proud,” said Neeraj, who holds a Masters in Business Administration degree and works for IT recruitment firm Radiant System.

When asked what has been his inspiration, Neeraj said everything around him motivates him. “I feel I have no barriers. I don’t lock myself between four walls. I’m like a bird waiting to fly.”

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