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Mansi Khandelwal

JWB Blogger

Read How Paralympic Champion Devendra Found Gold in His Wife’s Sacrifice

  • JWB Post
  •  November 18, 2016


Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, double gold medalist Paralympian from Churu district, brings to life my favourite Chris Garden’s quote “You’ve got a dream, you’ve gotta protect it…If you want something, go get it. Period.” 

A perfect example of dedication and perseverance, a fight within and outside, nothing could deter his passion. Devendra got his left hand amputated after touching an electric wire at the age of 8.

With respect and pride for this Olympian in my heart, I entered his house, and the first thing that caught my attention was his award winning moments nicely framed and placed on the walls of his drawing room. That sure left me awestruck. 

I was greeted by a beautiful lady clad in a simple salwar suit walking towards me with her 6-year-old daughter Jiya. Just five minutes down our conversation I was so overwhelmed with their simplicity and warmth that it felt like home.

I decided to take a sneak peak in the life of Manju Jhajharia, who with her constant support and immense love helped Devendra achieve what he has. Relationships are about sacrificing for one another and this is what Manju, former national Kabaddi player, an athlete, and wife of Devendra Jhajaria strongly believed when she took the decision of leaving academics and sports in 2007 after getting married to Devendra.


With all respect to the sacrifices, Devendra made to go out there and get it, the sacrifices of equal, if not more and different magnitude were constantly being made by his wife to let him fulfill his dreams. She gave up on her dreams to protect his. She told us, “I was a national Kabaddi player in 2009 and my daughter was born by then. The only option before us was that only one of us could go forward because the other person had to take care of our child. But since his was an individual game and Devendra was already an Olympic level player (with pride in her voice and hubby love in her eyes), I decided to do what mothers do better than fathers,” and she smiled.

Being a national-level kabaddi player, I was curious to know if she misses being her older self.

“Not just sports but I was a very bright student in academics too. I always came first in school. Yes, there are several times when I feel there’s more to my life beyond being a housewife and mother of Jiya and Kavyan, but then seeing Devendra achieve glory, I tend to overlook my desires.” (That must be difficult, I sighed)

While chatting with her, I was impressed seeing how proficiently she could talk about Devendra’s sport and the struggles of a sportsman, since she had once been in the same shoes like his.

“I have always been keen to know about his performance. I try my level best to free him from all the family tensions so that he can only concentrate on his game. So much so that when Devendra is on tours, our conversation starts from his practice and diet and everything revolving around his game, and ends there. He has to practice approximately 7 hours or more in a day after which I don’t want to burden him with anything that’s happening back home.”

When asked about one major difficulty the couple faced after their marriage and how they coped up with it, she said “2013 was one of the most difficult years in our lives together. He had such immense pain in his shoulder that he almost decided to leave his sport. That was the time when I decided to act strong and motivate him to gather his self-confidence again, and here he is!” (Proud wife).


Learning about his not so often and extremely short visits, I was curious to know how the couple spends their special time together. Didn’t intend to sound intruding, hesitatingly I asked. To which she replied “Despite all the fame he has received after winning two gold medals for the country, he remains a very simple and gentle person when he is with family. He helps me with household work, and we even cook together at times,” she blushed.

While Manju and I were having a candid chat about how different Devendra is as a sportsman from that as a husband, we were interrupted by Jiya (their daughter). Talking to her I realized I haven’t met such an obedient and disciplined child for years. She, who loved to study more than play with her friends is a rare sight to be seen amongst kids these days. With glitzy eyes, she told me how she distributed sweets to all her friends and teachers and proudly told them about her dad’s victory.

After having read so much about the father-daughter bond and how little Jiya motivated Devendra to bag a gold medal, Manju told us “The first question she asks her father is about his preparation. They had a deal to come first in their respective spheres. So after Jiya topped her class, she called her father and asked him to fulfill his promise. That’s what motivated him even more.” But she also told us how baby Jiya missed her dad especially at parents-teachers meetings held at her school when she sees other dads around. In that gloomy voice, she said, “Bachha hai miss toh karega hi…”


Looking at Manju’s and Jiya’s faces, I quickly wanted to change the topic and so I asked. Not all families are very supportive of games other than cricket in our country is a feeling we all have grown up with. How has your family supported Devendra?

“Coming from a farmers’ family and not having very great facilities required to excel in any sport, my in-laws concentrated on making my husband strong, quite literally, she chuckles. She told us “My mother-in-law made my husband drink 5 litres of milk every day, and yes that is true! She even used to wake him up from sleep if he didn’t finish his portion of milk every day.”

Manju and Devendra who love to be around their family that lives in Churu say no matter how big or small a celebration is, they always gather together. Devendra, in fact, is so attached to his family that every time before he leaves for any big event; he meets his family and gets a tilak put from his sister. “That’s our tradition,” she told us.

Not just winning medals for India, Devendra also knows how to win hearts and that he does best by surprising his lady love with gifts every time he returns home. “Once he went to Dubai and called me to ask if I want something in gold, to which I said no. Later when he insisted, I agreed on a gold ring. But to my surprise when he returned he gifted me a gold necklace,” she blushed.  

 I had a constant smile on my face after hearing about the bond this couple shares. What I heard next set some relationship goals for real. “Humara jo rishta hai itna khoobsorat hai ki in 9 saalo me aajtak humne aapas me kabhi jhagda nahi kara, and I was like whoa, that’s an achievement!”

While I was about to leave, Manju showed me some of her favourite pictures, and we together revisited her memorable past by flipping through them. Holding her photo album, she picked this picture as her favourite.

Photo Courtesy

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