Sonalben Patel is an Indian para table tennis player who has participated in several national and international championships. In August 2022, Sonalben came to the limelight after winning a bronze medal in table tennis at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the United Kingdom.
Sonalben Manubhai Patel was born on Tuesday, 15 September 1987 (age 35 years; as of 2020) in Viramgam, Gujarat, India. After completing her schooling at Geeta Higher Secondary School in Gujarat, she pursued a course in ITI at the Blind People’s Association (BPA).
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Sonalben Patel belongs to a Gujarati family.
Her father’s name is Manubhai Patel. Her mother’s name is Labhuben Patel.
Sonalben Patel with her parents
Her husband, Ramesh Chaudhary, is a para-athlete.
Ramesh Chaudhary, husband of Sonalben Patel
According to Sonalben Patel, her journey in table tennis began when Tejalben Lakhia, the director of the Blind People’s Academy (BPA), motivated her to pursue a career in table tennis. While giving an interview, Sonalben said,
I would gaze for hours at those playing table tennis, I now laugh that it was the superintendent of the ITI department, Tejalben Lakhia who had motivated me to play and pursue a career in table tennis. After which I started practising for hours at once.”
Her professional career in table tennis began in 2008, and since then, she has participated in more than twenty-five regional, national, and international tournaments. As of August 2022, Sonalben Patel has clinched more than three gold medals, four silver medals, and six bronze medals. In 2021, Sonalben Patel was selected by the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, where Lee Mi-gyu, a South Korean table tennis player, defeated Sonalben Patel. While giving an interview, she said,
I could not win a medal in the Olympics. But I am proud to have represented my country there. It is a big deal to be selected for the Olympics.”
Sonalben Patel at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics
In March 2022, Sonalben Patel participated in the ITTF Fa40 Egypt Open, where she won two gold medals and a bronze medal.
Sonalben Patel (right) showing her medals at the ITTF Fa40 Egypt Para Open
Sonalben Patel, in 2022, took part in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, where she clinched a bronze medal in the women’s singles event by defeating Sue Bailey, a paddler from the United Kingdom, by a margin of 3-0. In an interview, Sonalben Patel said,
I am very happy as it is my first medal in singles at the Commonwealth Games. I am very happy. I want to dedicate this medal to my husband, family, coach and all of the countrymen. I had also not won a medal at Tokyo Paralympics 2020 and this stayed on my mind. When I was selected for the CWG, I wanted to win a medal.”
Sonalben Patel playing a match at the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Sonalben Patel at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, after winning a bronze medal in table tennis
In 2014, the Government of Karnataka awarded the Eklavya Award to Sonalben Patel.
Sonalben Patel being awarded the Eklavya Award in Karnataka
- While giving an interview, Sonalben Patel claimed that when she was just six months old, polio affected her legs and right hand leading to 90% disability.
- According to Sonalben Patel, she wanted to pursue a career in teaching, but she faced rejection in the interviews because of her disabilities. While giving an interview, she claimed,
I was rejected and was denied to become a teacher, all because of my handicap-ness, which was cited as the reason for my rejection.”
- Sonalben Patel claims that she had no intentions of pursuing a professional career in table tennis, and it was her husband who motivated her to make a career in the sport. While giving an interview, Sonalben claimed,
I was only planning to pursue table tennis as a hobby. But it was my husband who mentored me, taught me more about the sport, and motivated me enough to change my mind. After which I took up the sport and pursued it professionally.”