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From going into a coma to winning the final, Pune paddler Shubhankar beats all odds

The 22-year-old national player had suffered a skull fracture and partial facial paralysis along with broken left shoulder in a road accident in 2016

pune Updated: Jun 14, 2017 15:30 IST
Ashish Phadnis
Ashish Phadnis
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,friendship cup,Shubhankar Renavnikar
City­-based paddler Shubhankar Renavnikar playing a shot at the Friendship Cup district ranking table tennis tournament. He defeated Chinmay Datar 4­-1 to lay his hands on the trophy. (RAVINDRA JOSHI)

For any player, overcoming injury and getting back into action is a painful and mentally torturing process, as they are forced to start all over again. A single mistake, an ankle twist, a collusion, a fracture, and years of hard work goes down the drain.

For city-based paddler Shubhankar Renavnikar, it was more difficult, as he was not sure whether he would ever play again. On July 31, 2016, the 22-year-old was hit by a speeding two-wheeler and a suffered a skull fracture and partial facial paralysis along with broken left shoulder. Shubhankar was unconscious for five days and took several months to recover. Yet, he overcame all obstacles, started working on his strength, his game and came back with a bang, winning the first tournament he played after the accident. In the Friendship Cup district ranking table tennis tournament, he defeated Chinmay Datar 4-1 to lay his hands on the trophy.

“This is a very soothing feeling, as I was not sure whether I would be able to hold the racquet again. The main concern was the head injury, as I had internal bleeding and it was a critical situation. Even the facial paralysis was a reason to worry. I was told not to drive a bike for several months, as I might feel dizziness. So, playing a hyper-active game like table tennis was literally a distant possibility,” said Shubhankar, who was forced to take a bed-rest for four months.However, with the motivation from his parents and elder brother, Pranav, he started the recovery process. It started with physiotherapy sessions and then he started working on his strength, changed diet and started playing table tennis again.

“Initially, I started playing for one hour, and then increased the duration and now I practice for three hours daily. However, it wasn’t that easy. I went through right from basic shots and spins and after several months, I can say I am getting confident about my game. This title means a lot to me, as it boosted my confidence. My shots and spins were coming smoothly,” he said.Remembering the tragic incident he said, “I don’t remember the accident at all. All I remember is that I was taking a turn on my bike while returning from Sharada Centre. Then I woke up five days later. I was told that it was quite a nasty blow. Fortunately I fell on my left side, so was able to play with my right hand. Otherwise it would have been a longer process.”

He also regrets about not wearing the helmet.“Normally I wear helmet while biking, but unfortunately that day I forgot to wear it. If I would have worn a helmet, it would have reduced the seriousness of the injury,” he said. Shubhankar known for his complete domination and ruthless attacking style, is a multiple time winner at district and state level tournaments for the past several years. He even represented India in the South Asian Junior Table Tennis Championship held at Dehardun in 2010, and the Asian Junior under-18 event in China, in 2012.

First Published: Jun 14, 2017 14:29 IST