Haryana's Sandeep Dangi Smashes Paralysis To Bag Khelo India Para Games Table Tennis Bronze
Sandeep Dangi was once destined for an academic journey leading to a promising future in pursuit of a PhD.
- NDTV Sports Desk
- Updated: December 16, 2023 04:33 PM IST
In a world where life's unpredictable turns often rewrite destinies, Haryana's Sandeep Dangi's narrative stands as a testament to resilience, courage, and an unyielding spirit that refuses to be defined by circumstances. A Para Asian Games bronze medallist at Hangzhou 2023, Dangi, who won bronze medal in the Class-1 category of the table tennis at the inaugural Khelo India Para Games, was once destined for an academic journey leading to a promising future in pursuit of a PhD. But fate charted an unforeseen path for the 36-year-old, who holds both BTech and MTech degrees.
A near-fatal car accident in 2016 altered the course of Sandeep Dangi's life dramatically. He was left 90% paralyses with an uncertain future staring at him. But Dangi showed the power of the mind to not only adjust to his new way of life but also make the nation proud.
The pivotal figure in Sandeep's journey of resurgence is his father, Surinder Singh Dangi, a former chief boxing coach at Sports Authority of India (SAI). Together, they navigated through the darkest phase of Sandeep's life, where the most formidable challenge was not physical, but mental. He needed to unlearn.
This meant letting go of 29 years of knowing what it was to live as an able-bodied individual. From being independent to relying on assistance for the smallest chores, Sandeep faced a paradigm shift in existence yet his spirit remained unbroken.
Reflecting on his mental fortitude post-accident, Sandeep Dangi credits his father for instilling an unwavering belief in him, steering his focus towards achieving milestones rather than dwelling on the past. "He gave me targets, always pushing me forward," he says, highlighting the pivotal role of setting objectives in his journey.
Despite immense challenges, Sandeep Dangi remained determined during his rehab. He rekindled his passion for table tennis, which was once an integral part of his college days. However, post-accident, Sandeep faced a unique challenge in playing the sport; his physical limitations prevented him from holding the table tennis racquet, compelling him to tie it to his wrist to negotiate the pingpong ball.
"Table tennis found its way back into my life during my rehabilitation," Sandeep shares, reminiscing about the pivotal moment when he discovered the sport's therapeutic impact.
Though initially challenging, Sandeep's journey into competitive table tennis began in 2018, spurred by his father's encouragement to participate in the Class-1 category of the nationals.
The world witnessed Sandeep's astounding mental resilience when he marked his debut at the Jakarta Asian Para Games in 2018, finishing fourth. However, his true moment of triumph arrived in 2023 at the Para Asian Games in Hangzhou, where he clinched the bronze medal, an accomplishment that reverberated across the nation.
Even Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, took to Twitter to commend Sandeep's extraordinary feat, acknowledging his dedication and unwavering spirit.
Till date Sandeep ties table tennis racquet to his wrist to play the sport, but his determination and commitment is such that he continues to reign as the national champion in his category for five consecutive years (2019-2023).
Meanwhile, speaking about the significance of the maiden Khelo Indian Para Games, Sandeep Dangi said, "Platform like the Khelo Indian Para Games plays a crucial role in offering opportunities, motivation, to para athletes.
"By adhering to international protocols and standards, this championship almost mirrors an international event thus providing much-needed exposure to budding para athletes. This praiseworthy initiative by the government will inspire thousands of specially-abled people to look past their shortcomings and contribute to the country's growth in whichever way possible."
For aspiring para athletes, Sandeep's message is simple yet profound: "Set one goal and focus solely on achieving it."
About Khelo India Para Games
The inaugural Khelo India Para Games 2023 is the latest addition to the Khelo India initiative by the Government of India. With an aim to bolster sports at the grassroots level, the Khelo India Para Games seek to empower every sportsperson who faces a disability. With empathy and inclusiveness at the heart of this endeavour, KIPG is also a mission to spot and produce a stream of champions that will make India proud at international para events.
KIPG 2023 will take place across three venues in New Delhi from December 10 to 17. The Games will bring together approximately 1,400 athletes. These athletes will be participating across seven disciplines - athletics, shooting, archery, football, badminton, table tennis, and powerlifting.
Principal sponsor for the Khelo India Para Games is Deepali Sports, a division of Deepali Designs and Exhibits. This event is also powered by IBDN, a CII initiative, and co-powered by Surya Roshni Ltd. Svayam, India's leading accessibility organisation is the Accessibility Partner for Khelo India Para Games 2023.