BENGALURU: International paralympic wheelchair tennis player Prathima N Rao is raising funds to buy a more advanced wheelchair to improve her chances of winning the Bangkok Open and Malaysia Open in October this year.
She is trying to raise Rs 3 lakh on the crowdfunding platform Wishberry. “I have participated in the Bangkok Cup and the Malaysia Cup in 2015. The international players are talented and also have good wheel chairs and coaches. This wheel chair will help me compete better,” she says.
A polio attack impaired her right leg and she uses a caliper to walk. Belonging to a middle-class family, she says it is difficult for her to spend lakhs on for her wheelchair. The US-based company Quickie produces the basic model Match Point with better wheels for faster movement. “If you do not move faster, your world ranking lags. Every ball counts. So, speed is important. The competition is fierce at the international level,” she adds. The US-based company has a branch in KR Puram which will get the advanced wheelchair imported for her.
The 32-year-old divorcee has a ten-year- old son and works as a front office executive. She started playing tennis in 2012, when her friend suggested that she join sports. “I was depressed because of personal problems. My friend asked me to join sports during that time. I played many sports like shot put, but lawn tennis attracted me. I have a disability in my lower body, but my shoulder strength is good, that turned into my plus point,” she says. Leander Paes is her role model.
She practises every day from 6 am to 8 am at Karnataka State Lawn Tennis Association (KSLTA). “Proper diet and exercise are also important,” she says.
Chief trainer Ramesh provides her personal training.
“As I represented India in the Bangakok and the Malaysia Open, the association trains me for free. He tells me that since no Indian has featured in the top 100 of the Paralympic Wheelchair Tennis, I should strive for it”, she adds.
Rao aims to represent India in the 2020 Summer Paralympics. “My coach, family and friends have always been my motivation. My son helps me pick up the ball during the sessions. They want me to see win international tournaments more than I do,” she says with conviction.
To sponsor her dreams, you may log onto www.wishberry.in/campaign/a-very-special-wheelchair/#/campaign.