Manali Naik could not come first in the race on her annual sports day, but on Thursday morning she surpassed several when she looked up her Secondary School Certificate (SSC) results.
The topper (96.46 per cent) in the handicapped category was also ranked second in Mumbai. "I had expected to get 90 per cent but to figure in the rank list in Mumbai division was a huge surprise. I am happy that I have made it in two categories, especially in the general rank list," said the 16-year-old.
A congenital defect had left her with a limp. "I don't feel handicapped, I feel normal. My leg has never stopped me from achieving what I wanted." Naik's next ambition is to get rid of her limp. "Every day I spend 30 minutes exercising. I am very disciplined and follow my schedule religiously For the entire year, her day would begin ." at seven in the morning. After school she would attend coaching classes, but would also study on her own.
She also kept aside a three-hour slot of what she calls time-pass. "I used to watch my favourite TV shows, listen to the radio and read books to unwind. I enjoyed reading Harry Potter in particular. I like listening to slow music and watch tennis occasionally ."
Naik excelled in extracurricular activities too. She participated in the National Talent Search conducted by the NCERT and made it past the state-level round. She is awaiting the re sult of the written test.
Another challenge Naik and all other SSC students had to cope with this year, was a change in the syllabus. "The new syllabus is more vast than the previous one. Now we have to study 12 to 13 units in science for a 40-mark exam. The marking scheme though remains unchanged," she said.
Her proud father Madhav said: "We were aware of her calibre, she has always stood first in class. But we decided not to put any pressure on her by just asking her to do as much as she could."
Naik plans on taking up Science in Ruia College or Ruparel College. She has her eyes set on IIT and is keen on a career in biotechnology .