Paralympics glory in mind, India's first para-badminton academy launched in Lucknow
National coach Gaurav Khanna launched the first state-of-the-art, high-performance centre for para-badminton, to hone more talents for the Paralympics.
Badminton was the talking point of the Tokyo Paralympics with Pramod Bhagat and Krishna Nagar bagging the gold medals, aside from Suhas Yathiraj, Manoj Sarkar also medalling with a silver and a bronze respectively from the multi-sporting extravaganza.
Given such a brilliant showing, Dronacharya awardee and Head National Coach of the Indian para-badminton team, Gaurav Khanna has decided to launch the country's first Para-Badminton Academy in Lucknow, in association with the Ageas Federal Life Insurance.
With state-of-the-art facilities and a high-performance centre, the Para-Badminton Academy will act as the hotspot to train Indian para-badminton talents for the upcoming 2024 Paris Paralympics. Keeping his eye out for the later Paralympics as well, Gaurav Khanna also announced the Ageas Federal 'Quest for Fearless Shuttlers' that will be on the lookout for young shuttlers to train for the 2028 and 2032 Paralympic Games.
Comprising four courts, two with BWF-approved Synthetic Mats for standing athletes and two Wooden Courts for athletes who use the wheelchair, the latest Para-Badminton Academy is well-planned.
Having all the modern facilities, including a fully-equipped gym, provisions for ice baths, steam baths, sauna baths, and jacuzzi hydrotherapy, the Para-Badminton Academy in Lucknow also has disabled-friendly rooms for athletes to stay.
In the closed-door ceremony that took place on 16th January 2022, Gaurav Khanna mentioned, "India has produced several para champions, but they could never train in a professional setup. Since 2015, I have been doing whatever I can at makeshift rental venues," Khanna explained. "Thanks to Ageas Federal Life Insurance, we have managed to create a world-class facility for Para-badminton players. They can not only train here now but also stay for long durations and focus entirely on their game," he said gratefully.
Speaking on the same occasion, Karthik Raman, the Chief Marketing Officer of Ageas Federal Life Insurance said, "Apart from backing several marathons, we have supported badminton at the grassroots level in a big way," he mentioned.
"Para-badminton has done our nation proud at the Tokyo Paralympics. It is our honour and privilege to join hands with Gaurav Khanna for the launch of the Academy to help this sport achieve greater heights in the country and hopefully win more laurels at the upcoming Paris 2024 games. Our 'Quest For Fearless Shuttlers initiative' is our humble effort towards this goal," Raman elaborated.
Khanna, who is responsible for having nurtured the talent of the medalling shuttlers at the Paralympics which saw four shuttlers out of the seven that qualified coming back with medals, also mentioned that from now on, even the Paralympians will be training at the newly launched Academy that will be overseeing 50 para-athletes for now.
Celebrating the launch of the first Para-Badminton Academy in India, Pramod Bhagat, Manoj Sarkar, Nitesh Kumar, Krishna Nagar, Nithya Sri, and Palak Kohli among other rising para shuttlers were present at the event.
With other plans already in the pipeline, Khanna said, "I am also planning to initiate a Coaches Excellence Programme as I want other coaches to understand the intricacies of Para-badminton. I am preparing the draft syllabus and aim to train several coaches in the country so that we become a major force in the sport," the veteran coach explained during the event. With the launch of India's first Para-Badminton Academy, a new dawn in para-sports can be seen on the horizon.