MS doesn’t stop me empowering other people

Rajiv, 35, India

I was diagnosed with MS aged 18. I was stuck in bed for almost two years until I decided to get my life back on track.

Soon afterwards I went to the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre for physiotherapy. I started using a wheelchair to get around and I was introduced to wheelchair sports.
I’ve always loved sport and before MS I was a keen footballer. I decided to master wheelchair sports and after a lot of hard training I went on represent India in wheelchair tennis and to win the Delhi marathon five times!

Eventually I was offered a job as a rehab sports trainer at the centre where I’d once been a patient.

My family’s support and my will power help me to be independent, but the most important thing is my belief that MS is a part of my identity rather than a problem.

If there was more accessibility in every sphere of life (i.e. in employment, public space and transport) then more people would feel independent and we’d be able to focus on ability, rather than disability.

I think sports are an integral part of rehabilitation and I encourage everyone with a disability to stay active. Obviously you need to be realistic about what you can do, but independence is a jigsaw puzzle in which self-belief is an essential part. Sport can help with that.

I now coach the wheelchair basketball team of New Delhi. The most joyful and fulfilling part of it is empowering others and helping to give them a sense of achievement.