Representing India at the Olympics, as well as several others, is a dream come true for swimmer Maana Patel, but it is a reality that the young man would have struggled to even imagine four years ago, when she was at her lowest level while breastfeeding. wound in the shoulder and struggling with depression.
Maana’s swimming experience began when her mother enrolled her in summer classes in 2008, hoping to improve her daughter’s appetite. And the eight-year-old took it as the duck took water. It wasn’t long before she began to create waves with her performance.
“As a child, I was very excited and had a bad appetite. So, that’s why my mother put me in a summer game in 2008, thinking I would play in the water for a while, go out, and eat right. It was nice to swim and everything fell into place, “Maana told PTI.
“I slowly started competing at the club level. People saw me, we competed and then they were like “she swims really well”, she added.
Maana, who qualified for the women’s 100m backstroke at the Tokyo Games through the Universal Quota, invaded the Indian swimming scene as a 13-year-old, setting three national records in the backstroke.
“In 2013, I broke the Indian record. I was even faster than the boys my age. “
Everything was going well for the back stroke, which won six medals at the Games in South Asia in 2016. But everything changed when Maana injured her left shoulder in 2017.
“I had a torn labrum in my left shoulder, so throughout 2017 I took a step back. I withdrew from all the competitions and just focused on my rehabilitation. “
Maana had recently moved to Mumbai from Ahmedabad with her mother, outside her comfort zone. During the rehabilitation she was tormented by self-doubt, she lost about six kilograms. The 21-year-old spoke about his struggle during this time eloquently in a TEDxYouth talk.
“I had to start from scratch, so it was very, very frustrating and very absorbing – mentally and emotionally. I threw hysterics. There was a time when I really wanted to give up swimming.
“I was young and didn’t know how to deal with the injury. I was super depressed.”
Maana’s mother then intervened with some advice that changed the minds of swimmers born in Ahmedabad. “Mom and I come as a package. She played a key role in my success. Her lifestyle has also changed because of me. She travels with me, almost everywhere. She saw me, she knew what I was going through. ”
“She told me, ‘If you give up now, you will probably make it a habit to give up, and you will do so for the rest of your life. This problem is not a big problem, everyone is working to get you back, everyone is trying to make you stronger and healthier, all you have to do is believe in yourself. “
Maana returned to competitive swimming in 2018. In the senior national team, she not only won three gold medals, but also improved her national record in the women’s 100m backstroke.
A year later, she returned to the Asian age group championship with six medals, including gold and bronze and four silver.
Excited to compete with the best swimmer in the world, Maana hopes to improve her personal best time at the Olympics.
“It has always been my dream and in the end it comes true, so it is an honor and humility to represent my country at the Olympics. It’s an amazing feeling. ”