The one-armed wonder
By N Jagannath Das | Published: 10th December 2012 08:36 AM |
She is indeed a one-armed wonder. Having lost her right arm at the age of three years, because of a doctor’s blunder for injecting a wrong vaccine, Bruna Alexandre has lived to fight the handicap with more able-bodied peers. The 17-year-old is a member of the Brazilian team that is taking part in the Volkswagen 10th World Junior Table Tennis championship being held at the SAP Indoor Stadium in Gachibowli. Bruna did not disappoint in her first outing when she routed Lucena Josmary of Venezula 11-3, 11-7, 11-6 in Brazil’s 3-0 win in the first match today.
She earned a place in the main team after some creditable performances in the national tournaments and is currently the third best player in her country in the junior rankings. Coach Lincon Yasuda says that Bruna is one of the most talented players of their country. “She plays an aggressive game. She plays a lot of top spin and plays far and across the table,” said Yasuda.
Bruna participated in the London Paralympics where she lost in the quarter-finals to a Chinese player. “It was one of my best performances,” said Bruna, who had earlier won numerous tournaments in her country. She idolizes Natalia Partyka, a one-armed table tennis player from Poland. Partyka was born without a right hand and forearm. Like Partyka, Bruna dreams of participating in the Olympics too. “I’m inspired by Natalia. One day, even I want to play at the Olympics,” said Bruna, who is also fan of Kaka, the famous Brazilian football player for a simple reason that he is handsome.
Hailing from Santa Katrina, which lies south of Brazil, Bruna’s love for table tennis started because of her brother Bruno at the age of eight years. “I used to accompany my brother to the nearby club where I got attracted to the game. Initially, I thought it would be difficult to play with one hand but gradually I began to get a feel of the racket and began to play,” she pointed out.
However, it was the service that bothered her initially. “I used to keep the racket in the handicap right-arm pit and then throw the ball up. But I found it difficult as the racket became wet and I had to change my style. I began to practice to throw the ball up and then go for the service. It took two months to perfect it,” said Bruna, who now holds the racket and puts the ball on top of the thumb of her left hand before tossing it for service. It took a little while before her talent and the game was noticed. She began to win tournaments before even being picked for the state and the national squads. Bruna has played at eight international para table tennis tournaments, including the London Paralympics. In individual and team events, she has played about 66 matches, won 56 of them. This is her maiden trip to India. “I want to make it a memorable one,” she said with a smiling face.