I do not consider my impairment to be a disadvantage: Shuttler Palak Kohli
Tokyo-bound badminton star, Palak Kohli, talks to The Bridge about the feeling of representing India and her aim at the Paralympics.
Palak Kohli is the only para-badminton player who would be seen representing India in three different events at the Tokyo Paralympics. Moreover, she is the youngest in the badminton squad and the second youngest overall in the Indian contingent for the quadrennial event.
But, it does not really feel like that when one sits down to have a conversation with her.
"Representing India at the Tokyo Paralympics is a matter of pride for me. I made my international debut in 2019, and having the India tag attached to my name since then gives a surreal feeling," Palak Kohli tells The Bridge.
While one might expect someone as young as Palak to be a bit brash, she comes out as very level-headed and someone who knows what she wants and how to achieve it.
"My complete focus is on giving my best in all the three events I would be competing in Tokyo, and I believe medal will follow. Athletes do feel the pressure when there is so much hype around, but then that is needed. You can't really say media and fans are ignoring para-sports and para-athletes at one moment and then say all this media hype is putting me under pressure. You have to play through it, and I am ready for it," the 18-year-old boldly states.
When enquired about the bone marrow oedema which she carries in her left calf, Palak Kohli maintains a poker face and replies that it does get bad at times, but she has learnt to live and play with it.
"See, there are some injuries which can be cured easily. But, a bone marrow oedema cannot be. I have come to terms with it since long. I will have to continue playing with it. Yes, it does get bad at times, but then my training regime planned by my coach, Gaurav Khanna, is such that it does not flare up often. Much like my hand impairment, I do not really consider it to be my disadvantage, instead, I look at it like my superability," she said.
Palak was full of praise for both her double partners – Pramod Bhagat and Parul Parmar and maintains that playing with them helps her be at her best on the court.
"It is weird playing with someone whom you do not share much in common with. Parul didi is 30-year older than me, and Pramod bhaiyya is almost double my age. When I was paired up with them, I at first felt awkward about whom have I been paired up with, but all of that went away as soon as we started training together. Both of them have been playing before the time I was born probably, and have vast experience, which I am tapping into slowly to improve my game."