Begin typing your search above and press return to search.

Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

12 years after falling into 400 feet gorge, Rakesh Kumar eyes a medal at Tokyo Paralympics

Para-archer Rakesh Kumar fell 400 feet into a gorge and lost his legs due to a spinal injury. Now, he has his eyes on the podium at Tokyo Paralympics.

Compound archer Rakesh Kumar ( Souce: World Archery)

Compound archer Rakesh Kumar ( Souce: World Archery)


Naveed Mohammed

Updated: 18 Aug 2021 5:54 AM GMT

What if you are lucky but not lucky enough? Para-archer Rakesh Kumar can relate to this question more than anyone.

Hailing from the small town of Katra in Jammu, Rakesh, on the eventful night of January 19 2009, was travelling from Jammu when his car plunged 400 feet into a gorge. Out of nine people travelling in the crowded car, five lost their lives. Though Rakesh cheated death that day, he was injured severely in the accident. The vehicle got crushed on impact as the Locals, and the police pulled Rakesh out of the rubble. He could not move his limbs, and upon further inspection at a hospital, Rakesh learnt that he suffered a spinal injury - an injury which left him paralysed from the waist below.

Series of hardships for Rakesh

The period from 2009-2017 was highly challenging for Rakesh Kumar. He was in bed for six months after the accident during his recovery period. His family's financial condition was in bad shape and Rakesh started working at a roadside shop to try and support them. A rogue thought that his family couldn't bear the cost of his treatment was echoing in his mind for a long time. He felt he was becoming a burden on his family; he tried taking his life three times but was saved in time.

One fine day when Rakesh was sitting by the pavement in his wheelchair, his life changed for good when a car pulled up to him. The man inside, a local archery coach, asked Rakesh to accompany him to the range. Before that day, Rakesh did not know that archery existed and not just in mythological books.

The bright spot

Once Rakesh saw children at the archery range shooting arrows, laughing and practising, he felt a special connection to the sport. Rakesh, when he first tried his hand at archery, his arrows were missing the targets, and his hands got tired quickly. But he did not budge; he borrowed money from his brother to arrange for an auto rikshaw to and fro from the shooting range to his home. Since the day Rakesh received his first compound arrow, he has not missed practice. Within a year on, March 24 2018, Rakesh became the No 1 ranked archer in the W2 open category at the Rohtak national trials.

Mission Tokyo

Now, things are looking up for Rakesh. "Whenever I was in need of funds, my friends and coach helped me all the time. Since I have qualified for the Paralympics, now I am in TOPS, so there is no issue of funds. Now countrymen know about us, their feelings and sentiments are with us, and it is our duty to do justice with all," he said to Times of India.

Rakesh Kumar will be seen participating in the individual compound and compound mixed events at the Tokyo Paralympics. He is in the red hot form from the Paralympics after he bagged gold in the individual compound event at the seventh Fazza World Ranking tournament in Dubai.

Next Story