Champion Gobi gets his just deserts
PUBLISHED: 14:08 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:04 26 October 2009
WHEELCHAIR badminton ace Gobi Ranganathan netted the 2007 Sports Person of the Year at the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Awards. Gobi took the coveted prize after overcoming major obstacles, including a life-saving operation just three years ago, to emerge triu
WHEELCHAIR badminton ace Gobi Ranganathan netted the 2007 Sports Person of the Year at the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Awards.
Gobi took the coveted prize after overcoming major obstacles, including a life-saving operation just three years ago, to emerge triumphant in his chosen sport in 2007.
Despite being born with spina bifida, being confined to a wheelchair hasn't stopped Gobi from participating in competitive sport and he can now hold his own against able-bodied players at Knebworth Badminton Club at Gosling.
He was victorious in his first major badminton tournament in the men's doubles after borrowing a sports wheelchair as his own standard chair was too slow and heavy.
Partnering Scotland's Ryan McDonald for the first time, Gobi won the Welsh leg of the 4 Nations Disabled Championships in Cardiff. Last October Gobi also won a singles tournament in London and he's now targeting success in the European Championships in May.
Club head coach Philip Gray even thinks Gobi could be a contender for GB at the 2012 London Paralympics.
Gobi was unable to attend the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Awards as he was at a similar function run by the WHTimes' sister paper, The Comet, in North Herts.
However, he was overjoyed at taking the borough's top individual prize.
He said: "I have to say, I'm absolutely delighted at winning the award and it was most definitely unexpected.
"I've come along way from my health problems/hospital stay, so it's great to know that my achievements have been recognised. Winning the award is another milestone which shows me how far I've come, but I'm by no means thinking of stopping there.
"I've got the Scottish leg of the 4 Nations to come in April and the European Championships to come in May, so I've got a lot of hard work still ahead of me."
Gobi hopes he can be a role model for others with a disability and be an inspiration to them. He said: "I'd like to think that winning the award can show others that disability is not inability.
"It'd be nice to think that I could be a good role model for people, so they can see what can be achieved, despite having a disability. I'm still a long way off that though, I think."
The 2007 Sports Person of the Year was announced by inaugural award winner Ian Miller, the veteran Herts Phoenix coach and competitor. Gobi's cousin Suresh Pulandran collected the trophy at the Campus West Theatre in WGC.
Gobi said: "I'd like to thank those who nominated me and also those who voted for me to win the award, and I really am pleased to win such an accolade.
"I'm sorry I couldn't be there to collect the award personally but had already committed myself to another awards ceremony for the Stevenage Comet, where I won the Paul Pearce Disability Award.
"It was unfortunate both ceremonies were on the same night as I'd love to have gone to the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Awards night as well.