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Palak Kohli, India's Para-Badminton star made history by becoming the youngest para-badminton player in the world to qualify for Tokyo 2021 Paralympics. Palak along with her partner, veteran Parul Parmar, has achieved the qualification for the SL3-SU5 Women's Doubles event.
The announcement comes after the conclusion of the Spanish Para-Badminton International 2021 which was one of the qualifying events for Tokyo Paralympics. However, given the covid travel guidelines, the Indian contingent was unable to participate.
At just 18 years of age, Jalandhar born Palak has been able to make it to the biggest sporting stage through sheer determination and perseverance. Currently ranked World No. 6, the pair of Palak and Parul becomes the first Indian para shuttlers to qualify in the sport which will be making its debut in this year's Paralympics.
Waking up to the news of making it to the Paralympics, the young starlet said, "We got the official communication today and I am ecstatic to hear the news. In the last few months, we have been pushing ourselves and training hard. Even in the pandemic, we continued to train under the guidance of Gaurav Khanna sir and never deterred from our focus and I am really grateful that we have been able to clear the first obstacle of getting a Paralympics medal. We have to now set our targets at the podium and devote all our energy in the upcoming days to achieve the goals."
Under the watchful eyes of India's para-badminton coach, Gaurav Khanna, Kohli graduated from being a rookie in this field to scripting this new chapter in the history of the paralympic sport.
"I am absolutely thrilled that Palak and Parul are the first ones from the Indian Para-badminton contingent to receive their tickets to Tokyo Paralympics. The pandemic has been difficult on all of us, but this news has brought some positivity. We now have to prepare keeping in mind the level of difficulties the Paralympics will have for us and the work gets somewhat easier for us by having a dedicated training facility. We are extremely grateful to the Sports Authority of India, BAI, Welspun India who has been constantly supporting us", Coach Khanna said.
The duo is currently training at the Gaurav Khanna Excellia Badminton Academy, the first Indian professional para-badminton academy, in Lucknow. Palak is all set to represent the Indian team in the upcoming Paralympics in two events. After making it to the SL3-SU5 Women's Doubles event, she awaits her call for the SU5 Singles category where she's currently ranked number 11 in the world.