Inspired by home-grown paralympic stars like Grisha HN and Mariappan Thangavelu, who won a Gold in 2012 London Paralympic Games and 2016 Rio Paralympics respectively, the Karnataka contingent consisting of 84 athletes is eager to put Karnataka in the top 3 of the medal tally.
The Khelo India Para Games mark a monumental step towards inclusivity in Indian sports, demonstrating the extraordinary talent and grit of the para-athletes from every corner of the country.
Speaking at a heart-warming send-off ceremony organized by Sports Authority of India (SAI), Southern Centre along with Department of Youth Education and Sports (DYES) and Karnataka Paralympic Association, Rakshita Raju – Gold medallist in 1500m at the 4th Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia hailed the efforts of the government to host the first-ever Khelo India Para Games starting 10th December in New Delhi. “This is a big moment for Karnataka. Traditionally, we have always done well in para sports and at the first-ever Khelo India Para Games, we are well-prepared to make a mark and win medals. With the hosting of Khelo India Para Games, we now feel like there is no difference between us and the able-bodied.”
The first-ever Khelo India Para Games is scheduled to be held from 10th December to 17th December 2023. Over 1,400 participants from across 32 states and union territories including Services Sports Control Board are expected to participate in the maiden Khelo India Para Games which will witness para-athletes vie for honours in 7 disciplines including para athletics, para shooting, para archery, para football, para badminton, para table tennis and para weight lifting. The events will be held across 3 SAI stadiums – the IG Stadium, Shooting Range in Tughlaqabad and the JLN Stadium.
Since 2018, a total of 11 Khelo India Games have been successfully held. This includes 5 Khelo India Youth Games, 3 Khelo India University Games and 3 Khelo India Winter Games.
Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) Chairman Satyanarayana, who also closely works with para-athletes in Karnataka said, “Karnataka typically does very well in para-athletics and I expect them to win medals in shooting and power lifting. A realistic expectation is for Karnataka to finish within the 5th place in overall medal tally. I believe this is a great opportunity for our athletes to showcase their talent and just the spirit of participating despite all the challenges they face. Hosting an event of this magnitude for the para-athletes is no mean feat and we are extremely grateful to the government of India for initiating Khelo India Para Games.”