New Delhi: She sports a famous surname, but is not well-known. She has a different goal altogether, that is to win a Paralympics medal. Keeping that in mind, she is training full steam even during lockdown. Meet Palak Kohli, a woman on a mission. Palak Kohli is leaving no stone turned to fulfil her goal.
Woman on a mission
Locked in their homes or hostel rooms might be the story of most Indian athletes now. However, Tokyo Paralympics-bound shuttler Palak Kohli has managed to continue her full training schedule. She has done so by putting up a makeshift court at her residential society in Lucknow.
The 17-year-old badminton player from Jalandhar was initially training at national coach Gaurav Khanna’s academy in Lucknow along with nine others. However, eight left for their homes just in time before the national lockdown to came into effect in -March.
Palak then rented a flat at the outskirts of Lucknow. Khanna helped her in putting up a makeshift court at a nearby park complete with lighting facility. This was done so that she could train at night also.
“I am training two shifts every day. Because it’s too hot during the day, I start at 6.00am with physical training. Then I play on the court till 8:30am. In the evening also it’s also 6.00-8:30pm training schedule,” Palak said.
“Khanna sir stays nearby and he is there every session. So, I am not missing any training due to lockdown. I think I am lucky that I am being able to train. When lockdown is lifted I won’t be starting from scratch. It will certainly be an advantage going into the Paralympics,” added Palak. The youngster has a deformed left hand by birth.
Palak is certain to make the cut for Tokyo Paralympics in women’s doubles. She is currently ranked fifth in the world. The top six in the list to be published by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will get automatic qualification.
“Out of the 13 qualification tournaments, 12 were completed and the last one was cancelled due to COVID-19. I am now fifth and the top six get automatic qualification. So, I am a certainty for Tokyo Paralympics,” said the teenager.
Categories Palak can play in
Palak’s coach Khanna is proud at what she has done. “Palak has attained the eligibility to qualify for Paralympics in ‘SL3-SU5’ women’s doubles,” Khanna said.
‘SL3’ category is meant for those who compete with a ‘standing/lower limb impairment/minor’. ‘SU5’ category features para-athletes with ‘standing/upper limb impairment’. Palak is currently ranked 10th in women’s singles in ‘SU5’ category.
The 12th standard student at DAV School in Jalandhar made her national debut last year. She has already won four BWF international tournament medals during the Tokyo Paralympics qualification competitions. Palak won the women’s doubles title with Parul Parmar at the Uganda Para International Tournament in 2019.
“I am not complaining as I am getting full training here. Had I gone back to Jalandhar, I would have been confined at home because of the lockdown. Here I am able to do full training,” informed Palak.
“My only aim is to win a Paralympic medal and I am confident of doing that and making the country proud.” Palak signed off.