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From Rank 1042 To 63 In A Single Year: Why Juan Del Potro Is A Huge Inspiration For Me

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By Af Afreen:

Setbacks and hardships are a part of life and they will come in everyone’s life no matter how perfect the person’s life looks from a distance but with hard work, determination, faith and sheer willpower, anyone can overcome these setbacks. This is the lesson I have learned recently.

Juan Martin Del Potro is considered to be the biggest “what if” of tennis till date. DelPo, as he is lovingly called, won his first Grand Slam in 2009, upsetting the then-number one Roger Federer, snapping his 41-match winning streak at the U.S. Open. He was only 20-years-old at that time. With a ferocious forehand and an equally amazing backhand, he was considered by many as the heir to Roger Federer, the next King of tennis. He achieved his career’s highest-ranking of world number four in 2010 but then the injuries hit. He had to undergo a surgery on his right wrist that caused him to miss the opportunity to retain his title at the US Open 2010.

He started his 2011 campaign ranked an odd 485 in the world. But he ended his year in style with being ranked 11 in the world and winning the ‘ATP Comeback Player of the Year‘. 2012 saw him back to the top 10 by winning four titles and winning a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics against Novak Djokovic before he played a marathon four-and-a-half hour three-set semifinals against Roger Federer losing in a very tight match.

He started 2013, as being one of the dark horses and he didn’t disappoint by achieving his career’s best ranking of world number four again! He won four more titles and made it to the semifinals of the Wimbledon losing to Novak in one of the best five-set matches in the Wimbledon history. People, critics and fans alike thought 2014 will be the year we’ll all see him lifting a Grand Slam again but injuries hit him again, this time it was the left wrist.

He had to undergo three operations on his left wrist resulting in him playing just 14 matches in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, before his 3rd operation, he even considered retirement from tennis at the mere age of 26. But with a strong support system and a ‘never say die’ attitude, he worked hard and made a comeback again in February 2016 at Delray Beach. At that time he was ranked 1042 in the world. But he reached the semifinals in that tournament. Indeed a fairytale comeback for him. He decided to keep the light schedule and missed the French Open to prepare for Wimbledon. That preparation paid off as he made it to another semifinals at the 2016 Mercedes Cup before reaching the third round of Wimbledon defeating third seed Stan Wawrinka en route to the 3rd round.

Then came the 2016 Summer Olympics, he got the worst possible draw. Drawing number one seed and the favourite for the title Novak Djokovic in the first round. He thought it was going to be a short tournament for him. Surprising everyone including himself, he defeated Nole in straight sets. Both players left the stadium in tears but for different reasons, before sharing a heart warming hug at the net, melting millions of hearts around the world. DelPo carried his success to the next rounds. His next big opponent for the semifinals was Rafael Nadal. Everyone thought Rafa will get through easily, Rafa did not disappoint winning the first set. But guess what? Juan did it! He defeated Nadal in 3 sets in arguably the match of the year. Next up was defending champion Andy Murray. Even though he lost the match in 4 high quality sets, the match was very interesting and almost heart failing. Pushing the current Wimbledon champion to the brick, he reached the podium when many thought that he would lose in the first round. In the end, he won a lot more than the silver medal, he won a silver made of gold for his fans and all the tennis enthusiasts watching around the world.

Next up was the US Open, where he got a well-deserved wildcard as his heroics did not give him any ranking points and he was still ranked 142 in the world. He once again defied all odds to make it to the quarter-finals where he lost to the No 3 seed Stan Wawrinka in 4 sets. But anywhere, everywhere he goes, he is the crowd favourite.
He brings the crowd to the match. His gentle behaviour, sulky looks and amazing sportsmanship makes everyone love him so much. The crowd at New York too showed the comeback king their love, lifting him up in every match! He was just one game away from losing in the quarters, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and started chanting “Olé, ole, DelPo, DelPo!” The love, the support made him cry right in the middle of the court. He had to console himself before restarting the game.

After the U.S. Open, he is now ranked 63rd in the world. Let me remind you again, he started the year being ranked 1042.

Because of him I believe that anything is possible with hard work, determination and faith. One can achieve anything and everything in life, even when other people do not believe in us. Juan is back again and after four wrist operations, is considered to be a huge threat for the next season. He has proven, time and time again, that there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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