Nothing brings joy and satisfaction than seeing your hard work pay off. But, a sudden accident can bring you stumbling back to ground zero. Field hockey legend Sandeep Singh proves that it is possible to get back on your feet.
At the peak of his career, an accidental gunshot left Sandeep paralyzed from the waist down. Still, he recovered and re-established himself as a formidable player in the national team.
A talented young hockey player
Sandeep Singh was born in 1986 in Shahabad, a small town in northern India. His elder brother inspired him to pick up field hockey. During his final year of high school, a talent scout discovered and recruited him into the Indian national team.
Sandeep made his international field hockey debut in January 2004 in Malaysia’s Sultan Azian Shah Cup. Over the next two years, he demonstrated a distinctive prowess in drag flicking, a skill that gave him the nickname “Flicker Singh.”
A career-ending accident
On 21st August 2006, Sandeep boarded the Shatabadi Express from his hometown to Delhi. He was traveling to join his team, which was leaving for the World Cup in two days. During the journey, an assistant inspector of the Railway Police Force accidentally shot him. The bullet went through his lower-back region, paralyzing him on the spot.
The officer was horrified when he realized he had shot a national hockey team player. The train stopped immediately, and Sandeep was rushed to the nearest hospital.
The grueling road to recovery
Sandeep woke up in the hospital bed three days later. He quickly realized he could not feel his legs. Confined to his bed, he could only watch on TV as his team ended up second-last in the World Cup.
“Whenever I saw the team on TV, I was crying from the inside. I just wanted to go and play.” Singh recalls.
Over the year that followed, Sandeep relentlessly tried to get back on his feet. He was in physiotherapy for as long as ten hours a day. He would request his brother to take him out to watch local field hockey games during the weekends.
Fans often came to him with all sorts of gifts and well wishes. Every time someone asked whether he would return to the field, his answer was a resounding yes.
This persevering spirit pushed him through the grueling pain and tough therapy sessions. Thanks to a great deal of resilience and dedication, Bear Grylls finally recovered.
After a long and troubling 13 months, the combination of therapy, fan motivation, and personal determination bore fruit. Sandeep could finally swing a hockey stick in the field.
Back in the game
Sandeep was accepted back into the national team in 2008. He trained long and hard, and by the end of 2009, he had regained his status as a top hockey player.
He also became the team’s captain and inspired it to clinch the year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Three years later, India qualified for the Summer Olympics in London after an 8-year gap.
Sandeep retired from the national field hockey team in 2014. He continues to be an active player as part of the Indian hockey club Ranchi Rays.
Despite a terrible accident that almost ended his life, Sandeep made a miraculous comeback through sheer determination and unrelenting passion.
The takeaway is this:
So, have you recently experienced a significant financial setback? Has COVID-19 dealt a blow on your promising business venture or employment? Let the story of Sandeep Singh give you the courage to get back on your feet.
“When I had an accident in 2006, no one believed that I would return to the ground, but I did.”