Stevenage disabled sports star Gobi Ranganathan is on the road to recovery after crucial surgery

SBC chairman Sharon Taylor, Sports Personality of the Year winner Gobi Ranganathan, host David Croft

SBC chairman Sharon Taylor, Sports Personality of the Year winner Gobi Ranganathan, host David Croft - Credit: Archant

An international para-badminton player who won two medals after being told he may never play again is recovering from open heart surgery.

Stevenage mayor Sherma Batson and Gobi Ranganathan, winner of the Campbell Younge Award at Stevenage

Stevenage mayor Sherma Batson and Gobi Ranganathan, winner of the Campbell Younge Award at Stevenage's multi-cultural showcase Celebrate!!! - Credit: Archant

Gobi Ranganathan, who represents Stevenage, Herts and England in the disability sport discipline, first noticed something was wrong during the 2013 world championships, where he was competing in doubles.

“During that tournament I was struggling with breathing,” he told the Comet this week.

“I thought it was a chest infection.”

Gobi – who lives in Stevenage – went on to win silver, but continued to have breathing problems over the next few months.

Gobi has his sights set on the Four Nations after successfully undergoing open heart surgery

Gobi has his sights set on the Four Nations after successfully undergoing open heart surgery - Credit: Archant


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He said: “I took part in one more tournament in February last year, which I had to withdraw from due to a shoulder injury.

“It was a blessing in disguise. If I had carried on, who knows what would have happened.”

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The 39-year-old had a series of hospital tests and was eventually told he had a leaky aortic valve which had to be replaced during open heart surgery.

He said: “Most people have a pump rate of 50 to 60. Forty is bad. Mine was 16. The doctor was astonished I was still here. He said it was due to my fitness.

“I was told to stop everything, and they weren’t sure I would play again. It came as a shock.”

Put on a course of medication, Gobi was permitted to play para-badminton socially once a week.

This gradually increased to playing a few times a week.

At the end of last month – two weeks before surgery, and in his first tournament since February 2014 – Gobi played in a county tournament and won gold in the mixed doubles and silver in the doubles.

On Thursday he had the life-saving operation, which was a success, and he is now set to have rehabilitation for many months to come.

“I’m doing pretty well by the doctors’ standards,” he said.

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a rough ride, but each day I’m getting better.

“I’m just trying to get myself back on track. I don’t know any other way than to keep pushing forward.”

Gobi’s aim is to be fit enough to compete for England in the Four Nations in February next year, where he would face opponents from Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

And with para-badminton announced as one of the new Paralympic sports for Tokyo 2020, the world really is his oyster.

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