Lucknow Coach Behind the Victories of India’s Greatest Para Badminton Gamers | Jobs Punch


For 20-year-old Palak Kohli, a profession in sports activities is a distant dream. Born with a lacking left arm, all he may do on the sports activities courts was sit in a nook and watch others play.

As a teenage lady with a incapacity, she is at all times fearful about how society sees her. Lecturers, friends and people round him advise him to concentrate on his research and get a job by way of incapacity quotas. Usually, he would cry out of helplessness, he recalled.

In 2017, Palak met a stranger outdoors a mall in his hometown, Jalandhar, Punjab. After introducing himself and asking him about his incapacity, the stranger knowledgeable him about para badminton. “I am somebody who’s at all times been stopped from taking part in sports activities, and this stranger got here out of nowhere and informed me I may do wonders in sports activities! I could not imagine it,” Palak mentioned. The Higher India.

For badminton player Palak Kohli with his coach Gaurav Khanna.
For badminton participant Palak Kohli together with his coach Gaurav Khanna.

However the concept instilled hope in him, and in 2018, he began practising para badminton underneath a stranger, who he quickly came upon was none apart from Gaurav Khanna, the top nationwide coach of India’s para badminton staff.

Badminton debuted on the Tokyo Paralympics in 2020. A seven-member staff, together with Palak and Arjuna awardee Pramod Bhagat, participated within the occasion held in 2021. This made Palak the youngest athlete to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics. on the age of 19. She additionally turned the primary Indian feminine athlete to compete within the semifinals in Tokyo and completed in fourth place.

Badminton got here to Palak’s life as a blessing. “My very own definition of incapacity has modified. Individuals who used to discourage me recognize me now. I do not need ladies with disabilities to be known as that beggars (nothing may be accomplished),” he mentioned.

From athlete to nationwide para badminton coach

Palak’s success, together with 30 different para-athletes in Lucknow, is the results of Gaurav’s years of laborious work. He skilled all of them totally free.

Gaurav claimed that his team won 600 medals in the Paralympics, of which 200 were gold.
Gaurav claimed that his staff received 600 medals within the Paralympics, of which 200 had been gold.

Gaurav mentioned The Higher India, “I’m happy with my college students — Palak, Mandeep Kaur, Nitya and Manasi Joshi. Nehal Gupta is just 17 years outdated however has already began beating different gamers. We received 600 medals within the Paralympics, of which 200 had been gold. India has not received extra medals in some other sport in senior competitions.

A former badminton participant, Gaurav himself has a incapacity of 60 % and has devoted his life to coaching athletes with disabilities and listening to impairments. He has been coaching para athletes for nearly 15 years.

A resident of Lucknow, the 46-year-old began taking part in badminton at a younger age and went on to win state and nationwide stage competitions. However throughout a doubles match on the Udaipur Nationals in 1998, he suffered a meniscus tear in a single leg and was compelled to cease taking part in.

Left with no alternative, he began searching for a job and shortly started his profession with the Railway Safety Drive in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.

He has been training para athletes for the past 15 years.
Gaurav has been coaching para athletes for nearly 15 years.

An academy for badminton gamers

It’s on this episode that Gaurav observes how listening to impaired kids, who are sometimes orphaned or deserted by their dad and mom, flip to pickpocketing. Even educated folks name them “anti social parts”, he mentioned.

“These are harmless kids. I gave them rackets, and we began taking part in badminton within the night. Later we constructed an outside court docket. Typically I take them to Aligarh to play badminton. The intention is to make them really feel that they will do one thing of their life,” says Gaurav.

He started to determine with many such college students and in addition realized signal language to make sure that he may simply talk with them.

However, in 2000, he sustained one other damage – this time on his different leg – in a highway accident. However Gaurav was decided not to surrender the sport.

In the identical yr, he turned the nationwide coach for the Indian Deaf Badminton staff and his college students participated within the Deaf World Championships. And in 2015, Gaurav was made the top coach of the Indian Para staff for the world championships.

Gaurav took a loan and built a dedicated space for badminton players in Lucknow.
Gaurav took a mortgage and constructed a devoted area for badminton gamers in Lucknow.

“Because the nationwide head coach of para badminton, I see that there isn’t any organized construction for the athletes. We had gifted gamers however they didn’t have a devoted place for coaching,” remembers Gaurav.

“We began coaching in Lucknow. However we had been handled like second class residents. All gamers should cook dinner themselves. Our court docket is damaged and if it rains, we can not play. We had been solely allowed to play after different gamers. Bogs, courts and rooms should not handicapped pleasant. We additionally wish to be a precedence,” he added.

Decided to make a distinction, Gaurav took a mortgage and constructed a devoted area for badminton gamers in Lucknow. Named Gaurav Khanna Excellia Badminton Academy, the middle is supplied with artificial and picket courts, fashionable health club, skilled coaches, physiotherapists and nutritionists.

In 2020, Gaurav was awarded the Dronacharya Award for his contributions to para badminton.

Immediately, greater than 30 para athletes from throughout Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Delhi are being skilled at Gaurav’s academy.

However he felt he nonetheless had a protracted solution to go. Gaurav says, “We’re making ready for the 2028, 2032 and 2036 Olympics the place I plan to extend the variety of academy courts and construct a trainer system the place kids with disabilities can play in addition to examine.

Edited by Asha Prakash. All photos: By association.



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