Monday, June 05, 2023

Tokyo Paralympics: Palak Kohli – Winning over adversities in style

Adversities make one stronger and India’s youngest para badminton player, Palak Kohli, agrees to the hilt. Palak Kohli’s left arm has not completely grown – a condition since birth.

Uncomfortable questions, sympathy and alienation were a part of Palak Kohli’s daily routine, however, it never bogged her down but instead egged her on to do more.

It was only five years ago that Palak Kohli found out about para sports – that too by accident. Palak Kohli took to badminton and after growing up in the ranks in the sport, she is now the youngest para badminton player to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics. She will be playing in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

Palak Kohli is ranked 12th in singles (SU5 category) and fifth in the doubles. At the Tokyo Paralympics, Palak Kohli will play alongside Parul Parmar in the doubles.

Read: All you need to know about India’s flag bearer for the Paralympics- Mariyappan Thangavelu

The encouragement to take up para sports did not come from close quarters. While teachers always insisted Palak Kohli to focus on studies, her parents were too naïve to even think of para sports.

All physical education classes in school were only spent alone, watching her classmates play, while teachers suggested Palak to focus on studies.

Palak Kohli heard of para sports one fine evening when she visited a mall. As she was coming out, a person stopped her and asked her about her arm – a question she is used to. However, without offering any sympathy, the man sowed the seed of para sports in Palak and her family’s mind.

Also read: Tokyo Paralympics to be India’s best ever, says Deepa Malik

It was, however, a few months later when she decided to take up sports – to prove herself and her teacher wrong. It was during handball trials at school when Palak Kohli was asked by her teacher to only concentrate on studies and not play as she might lose her second arm too and become invalid for the rest of her life.

The incident was the final straw. Palak Kohli wanted to play sport and prove a point.

The beginning of Palak Kohli – para badminton player

Her research on para sports led her to Gaurav Khanna – India’s national para badminton coach – the same man who had met her in a mall.

Palak Kohli visited Gaurav Khanna’s para badminton academy in Lucknow and soon knew her calling and destination.

It was only two years ago that Palak Kohli played in the nationals. She did exceedingly well – winning three gold medals (women’s singles, women’s doubles and U-19 singles) and things seem to be better for her.

Only till August 2019.

Palak Kohli was diagnosed with a bone marrow issue, wherein fluids engulfed the tissue in her lower leg. It was diagnosed in time and the para badminton player was advised bed rest for three months.

Palak Kohli with her medals at the 2021 Dubai Para Badminton International
Palak Kohli with her medals at the 2021 Dubai Para Badminton International

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic.

All this, however, left Palak Kohli unperturbed. She was used to battling adversities and was quick to focus on solutions. An outdoor court in the garden became a practice venue while the weather played no deterrent. Palak Kohli was slowly getting back on her feet again.

The Indian shuttler’s first international tournament in two years was the Dubai Para Badminton International earlier this year. Palak Kohli returned with three medals – a silver in singles, and two bronze medals in doubles and mixed doubles.

As she gears up for the Tokyo Paralympics, Palak Kohli hopes to take the court by storm.

Also read: When and where to watch the Paralympics 2020 in India? Dates, Timings [IST]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *