Advantage Alfiya: Smashing notions to smithereens in a wheelchair

Alfiya James is a professional para-badminton player and national champion. Photo: Special arrangement

Alfiya was a rising star in the basketball court till she had a fall from the fourth floor of a building. This left her paralysed waist-down, overshadowing her prospects of becoming a pro-player. Despite the debilitating fall, Alfiya was not ready to give up. Her indomitable spirit and her will to overcome adversity, is what has led her to success.

Today, Alfiya James is a professional para-badminton player and national champion. She has been representing India in many national and international meets. She has taken part in six international tournaments, winning 7 medals. She is ranked 12 in world para-badminton; fifth in Asia, and first in India. However, all these achievements did not come easy to her.

Alfiya James: Instagram/the_lady_marvellous

Alfiya's was a small, close-knit family. Tragedy struck when she lost her father early on. The burden of the family fell on her mother. Alfiya was put up in a hostel. This was where she had the fateful fall. After months of treatment, doctors said she would not be able to walk again.

"Everything seemed to be falling apart for me. I found myself in a situation where I could not do anything. Life had reached a point of despair. But then, I told myself that I must continue to live, and I must keep trying. That is when I enrolled for a degree course at Jain University. At first, my mother hesitated to let me go to a hostel but eventually, she agreed. During the time I spent studying at Jyoti, I also joined various online competitions. That's how I got involved in powerlifting competitions. So, step by step, I made my way forward," she said.

Image courtesy: Instagram/the_lady_marvellous

Alfiya said she joined a gym and started watching the Olympics. She started off with power lifting competitions. She won a silver in the national para-powerlifting championship. She then chose to try her hand in badminton. During this time, she completed her degree. The Elite Group offered her a sponsorship and extended a job offer.

Alfiya James: Instagram/the_lady_marvellous

There was no looking back for Alfiya after this. In the first championship, she won a double gold. She started representing India and won the national title twice. Now, she is ranked 12 in the world.

Alfiya James: Instagram/the_lady_marvellous

Alfiya thanks her mother for all the enduring support. “I have thought of stopping at many points in life. However, it is the ingrained sportsman spirit that keeps me going,” she said. Alfiya is now preparing for the 2026 Asian Games. This year, she also plans to take part in major international tournaments. Now, during her relentless journeys to various match locations, she is little perturbed by the fact that she had a bad accident which rendered her immobile.

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