Young Indian para shuttler Palak Kohli says the Tokyo Games disappointment has increased her hunger for success and her sole aim is to return with a gold from the Paris Paralympics in two years time.
The youngest para badminton player to qualify for the Paralympics at 18, Kohli is currently competing at the Spanish Para badminton International II in Vitoria. She had qualified in all three formats -- singles, women's doubles (Parul Parmar) and mixed doubles (Pramod Bhagat) at the Tokyo Games but couldn't return with a medal.
"Playing in Tokyo was a wonderful experience. There is no age criteria in para badminton. So being the youngest to qualify for three events was a blessing as I got exposure to all three events," Kohli, whose left-arm is underdeveloped since birth, told PTI. "There was lot of disappointment after losing the mixed bronze at Tokyo after coming so close but it has also made me lot hungrier and I am living for that one aim, one goal for Paris. I don't want to settle for anything lesser than gold."
Kohli, who has been signed by Adidas for its "Impossible is Nothing" campaign, is currently focussing on the Spanish Open, where she is seeded second in women's singles SU 5 group B. She along with Bhagat are topping the group C in mixed doubles SL3-SU 5 with two wins. She also forms the top seed pair with Parmar in women's doubles SL3-SU5 and has won her first group A match. "This year I am looking to play in various events. Spanish Open is an important event where I want to do well," said Kohli, who used the post Olympics time to recover from a bone marrow edema in her left tibia, a nagging injury which was first diagnosed in 2019.
"But World championships and Asian Games are the main events which I am looking up to for this year. My long term goals remains 2024 Paris, 2028 and 2032 Olympics," she said. Kohli has joined the elite club of other Adidas' strong women athletes, including Mirabai Chanu, Lovlina Borgohain, Hima Das, Nikhat Zareen and many others. "I am happy to join Adidas. This brand has the ideology of 'impossible is nothing' and being the first para athlete from India to partner with Adidas is a feeling of happiness for me," Kohli said. "The campaign relates so much with para athletes and my aim is to promote and take badminton to the next level. It will help me to raise my voice."