After winning a medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, I suffered a major injury. I again started high-intensity training just before the World Championships in 2017. This is the time when my back injury got aggravated. I participated in the World Championships with the injury, and the pain remained constant. Then in the 2018 Asian Para Games, the pain continued, and I further sustained another injury in my knees. Despite all the challenges, I was able to win a silver medal at the Asian Para Games. I can say that I fully recovered from the injury only three months ago - only one and a half months before the trials for the Tokyo Paralympics.
I am feeling quite fit, and I am pretty confident about my performance at the Games.
When I came back from the World Championships in London in 2017, my sponsors GoSports arranged my rehabilitation at the Invictus Performance Lab in Bengaluru. It was almost a three-year process of rehab that I had to undertake to overcome my injuries. It would often come back and haunt me, causing ups and downs in my training regime. Following the Asian Para Games, I returned to the competition only after one year.
My confidence was shattered because of the regular injuries I sustained. While I was recovering slowly, I was diagnosed positive for coronavirus in April this year, which took another 20-25 days to recover. In August last year, the schedule that I had made for myself got disrupted because of the virus and the regularly resurfacing injury. But I am fortunate to have a strong support system. My family, my coaches help build my morale, with which I will be performing at the Paralympics Game.
The one-year postponement of the Games actually came as a blessing for me. If the Paralympics had happened in 2020, I would have to participate in it with the pain. Luckily, in the last one year, I got enough time to undergo the recovery process.
My best jump has so far been 1.86m, which I made in Rio 2016 Paralympics. It's been five years since I have made that jump. My target in Tokyo Paralympics will be crossing this threshold of 1.86m, and that could probably win me another medal. There had been a mental and physical block, and I want to overcome that block desperately and put my 100% in Tokyo. I have set primarily two goals for myself — either to change the colour of the bronze medal from Rio Paralympics or to attain my personal best again.
My competition will mainly be with the Indians, and I am happy that we share a healthy relationship with each other and inspire each other to push ourselves. Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar will be my competitors, and I am blessed we all have chances of winning medals in Tokyo.
The last few months have gone in intense strength training and as well as the regular jump training. Since the trials for the Paralympics, I have always focussed on enhancing the core strength of the body post-recovery, and now the jump training sessions have also increased, which has given me confidence before I head out for Tokyo on August 26.
I have been training under Satyapal Sir for the last six months in Delhi. I have known him for a long time now, and the best part of the coach-mentee bond is that he pushes me harder to attain my goals. He is always motivating me and knows exactly what training I need to build up my confidence. Apart from his inputs, I also share my observations on my own performances, which he listens to carefully and allows me to bring minor changes in the training module.
Despite my achievements, I am a bit disappointed with the Uttar Pradesh government for Paralympians. When I came back after winning a medal in Rio 2016, I didn't receive any prize money as promised. This year, the policy change came into action where Paralympians are supposed to get equal prize money as the Olympians. Many of the states have incorporated the changes and have felicitated the Paralympians. I want the UP government also to take this cognizance.