Divij Shah was four years old when his right hand got stuck in an elevator door and had to be amputated. However, both he and his father were determined not to let that one accident hold him back. Two decades later, 25-year-old Divij has tried his hand at everything from U-16 cricket to being a successful financial analyst.
As a physically challenged person in India, nothing came easy. But despite every step in his path being lined with hurdles, he didn’t give up. Talking about his earlier days and struggles to Deccan Herald, he said,
“I had to prove myself time and again to the coach of every team I wanted to be a part of but my determination proved the naysayers wrong. I soon played for the West Bengal U-16 (able-bodied) cricket team.”
After finishing an MBA in finance he moved to Bengaluru to work as a financial analyst, and that was when he picked up cycling. However, the lack of separate lanes for cyclists coupled with the fact that there are no cycles customised for people like him made it difficult for him to indulge in his newfound hobby.
If there is something that Divij has not done in his life, it is giving up in the face of adversity, and he wasn't about to let Bengaluru's busy roads get in his way.
He mastered cycling in just a few years and bagged silver at the Asian Para-cycling Championship held in Bahrain a few months ago. But India's complete lack of interest in any sport other than cricket was yet another obstacle. In an interview with Sport Exchange, he said,
“None of us were on proper time trial bikes; we modified our bikes on our own. We had less funding than the other countries, their equipment was better, and the competition was strong. All this motivated me to a great level. I was like if I’ll be able to compete with them, then that's a great feat. When the race began, I went all out. I didn’t have much time to think. I stopped thinking about the competition and just pedalled on with all I had.”
Nevertheless, the team of eight that represented India won gold, silver, and bronze. Currently getting ready to compete in the 2017 UCI Para-cycling Road World Championships, Divij is involved in raising funds for the Aditya Mehta Foundation so that other para-athletes with no financial help can realise their dreams. He also has his eyes set on the 2020 Paralympics to take place in Tokyo.
Image Credit: Sport Exchange
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