Rinku Hooda’s introduction to Para sports began after his arm got stuck in a paddy-sowing machine when he was merely 3-years-old. However, that has not stopped the iron-willed athlete from achieving great heights and making the nation proud. In this exclusive interaction with The Bridge, Rinku shares how he has been preparing for the upcoming para Asian Games, how the support of his family has been crucial to his success, and a lot more.
“Earlier I used to take part in 200 m and 400 m races and do well in them. One day I got the chance to try out javelin throw in 2012. Surprisingly, I did well and felt that I had a knack for it,” says the shy Rinku on how his journey began.
Rinku Hooda has been training at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Sonipat since 1st April and is leaving no stone unturned to get the best preparation possible.
“Neeraj Chopra is my idol in Javelin, and I am happy he is also from the state of Haryana. I keep meeting him often to take tips from him and ask him how to prepare in such a way that I can fine tune my technique. Getting to know more about the nitty-gritty of the sport from India’s finest athlete makes me immensely happy. Haryana ki mitti mein hi Kuch Aur Baat hai (I feel there is something in Haryana’s soil that it produces so many good athletes,” adds Rinku with a smile on his face.
Earlier the northern state of India was known to produce the country’s best boxers and wrestlers. The third discipline of javelin can be safely made third to this list.
Being a GoSports foundation powered athlete, Rinku has no dearth of facilities and is provided with everything he requires.
The 2018 Asian Para Games are about to kickstart soon, with the opening ceremony being held on October 6. The Indian contingent won a total of 33 medals (3 golds, 14 silver, and 16 bronze) in the 2014 edition of the multi-sport extravaganza. There are high hopes from the athletes travelling to Jakarta this time as well.
“I have high hopes for India this time around. I will look to give my best and leave the rest up to god. I am flying off to Indonesia today (October 1) and have my event scheduled for October 11. I am confident of doing well. I have been training 3-4 hours in the morning and 3-4 hours in the evening every day. I hope that my hard work pays off and I bring home a medal for India.”
The F-46 category javelin thrower is already a much-decorated athlete, having won a gold medal at the 18th National Para Athletics Championships which happened in Panchkula this year itself.
However, winning the gold medal at the Youth Asian Para Games Dubai in 2017 is what brought the 18-year-old to the limelight and proved his potential. Winning a silver medal at the World U-20 Para Athletics Championships was another breakthrough moment for him.
Behind every successful athlete, there are a tremendous number of sacrifices made by both family and friends and Rinku’s case is no different.
“My family has been a pillar of support for me. They have respected my decisions and are 101 % behind me at all times.”
Rinku Hooda threw the javelin 54.39m (his personal best at the time) to secure the 5th position in the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He was competing with India’s Devendra Jhajharia in the Paralympics, who, with his throw of 63.97 not only made the entire nation proud but also bettered his own World Record. Rinku now hopes to follow in the footsteps of Devendra.
“My life completely revolves around Javelin. I have no passion or hobby besides it. However, I do try and watch Shahrukh and Salman’s movies whenever they hit the theatres.”
At such a tender age, the Rohtak-born Rinku has been doing exceptionally well. He is India’s brightest prospects in the sport, and the Para Asian Games will act as a beta test for him to test his potential and see how much he needs to work to prepare himself for the 2020 Paralympics. The 19-year-old is known to give his personal best at significant tournaments (as he did in Rio and during U-20 World Championships) and the nation would pray that he can pull something extraordinary out of the bag in Jakarta as well.