Saturday, February 19, 2011

Down but not Out – the struggle of a handicapped swimmer

For Sandip Mandlik, a teenager in the prime of his youth, life appeared like a smooth sailing boat ride until suddenly one day, like a ship caught in a sudden violent storm, tossed around and dragged by unseen forces of nature, his dream world came crashing down, leaving him crippled for life. Undeterred, Sandip overcame the tragic accident with grace and courage and found a new meaning to his life.

The tragic story of this 24 year old handicap boy Sandip Mandlik is an inspiration to everyone to courageously face mishaps in life that sometimes happen so unexpectedly leaving us completely disillusioned and devastated.

Hailing from Pune (Karad), Sandip, like other boys of his age, was enjoying his college days frolicking with his friends. But after what happened on 17th March, 2007, life was never again same for Sandip. As part of the Sport’s Day celebrations being held at his college in Pune, he was decorating a banner, while lifting iron pole to decorate banner it came in contact with overhead electric line, when suddenly he came into contact with a live wire.

The electric shock he received was so severe he lost his left leg and now he is walking with artificial leg, along with making wrists and fingers on both the hands completely numbed and immobile. Later he had to undergo 9 major surgeries as almost all his veins were completely burnt out because of the electrocution.

After recuperating for a couple of months, he decided to enroll for the Master’s Degree in Food Technology offered at CFTRI in Mysore for which he was selected on merit. Earlier while studying in college he had decided to support himself for his education not depending on his parents for money and pursuing his education through educational loan.

While walking in the CFTRI campus one day, he passed by the swimming pool and suddenly thought to learn swimming occurred in his mind. The thought became so intense that he met the Institute’s swimming coach M. Gopal and expressed his desire to learn swimming.

“It was a rebirth for me. After this incident, how a baby starts learning I have learnt all the activities (daily cope up) depending on my physical comfort. In the beginning I too was apprehensive of people laughing at me, but my coach was very supportive and helped me a lot to learn swimming. He checked my physical condition and decided that I can learn swimming. He extended his support whole heartedly. Today I enjoy splashing, wading, and paddling in the pool. Swimming is a fabulous body workout, strengthening the muscles. I practice daily for about 45 minutes” says Sandip.

Speaking about his motivation in life he says, “Never think you can’t achieve anything in life. At least make efforts to try doing something. If you never make any attempt, how can you get anything at all? You should have the courage to face the challenges of life. Don’t worry about what others might be thinking of you. Only then you can reach great heights in life” and added, “I don’t like people looking down on me sympathetically. In the beginning I was bit afraid of what people may think, but later I took it as a challenge and decided I must do what I wanted to do.”

Sandip’s ambition is to create a new record in swimming, as being a competitive sport, he can prove his might in spite of his handicap. “I do want to depend on anyone in life. I want to be an example for other people like me” says Sandip proudly concluding with the statement, “I want to do something for nation”.

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