Former national Badminton Champion Rajeev Bagga has been conferred the "Deaflypian of the Century" award by the Deaflympics Committee. Rajeev has won the national singes title twice, in 1992 and 1993, and has been ranked number one in the world in deaf badminton since 1989.
"I feel very proud having won the award, not just for myself but for my nation. Although I have won the gold medal for the last 16 years, this award came as a surprise to me," said Bagga.
Rajeev has held the world number one ranking in Deaf Badminton for the last 12 years. He has retained his World Title in the last four World Games of the Deaf, which have now been renamed as the Deaflympics and has won twelve gold medals for his country in the last 16 years.
What has really brought him recognition is his successes in the Open category. He was national champion twice and created history in 1990 when he became the first deaf player to qualify for the prestigious All England Championship. That is when he realised that his disability has advantages and disadvantages.
"I take the minuses and pluses together. I can't hear the opponent be applauded so I don't get distracted. I rarely concentrate on my own applause. But overall it is a disadvantage to me in a big way because keeping scores is very important. You've got to motivate and push yourself. A lot of times when it is at the edge I feel it is 13 or 14 when it is actually 11 or 12," maintained Bagga.
For Rajeev competing has never been just excelling in deaf sports for him, the real achievement is in competing and excelling with the best of the best and it is this spirit which has brought him continuous success. "It is just the difference of language. Our body structure, everything is the same. A sportsman has got to play wherever the opportunity is available," he said.
Rajeev now hopes to develop deaf sports in India as there are no real facilities available for disabled sports persons. He looks forward to making sports more accessible and affordable to the deaf community and with his determination and dedication there is no doubt that he will achieve this latest goal of his.