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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Tokyo Paralympics: From Ballabgarh to the bright lights of Tokyo, para shooter Manish Narwal continues to be a trailblazer

Manish Narwal has come a long way from a shooting range in Ballabgarh to representing the Nation at the grandest stage as one of its top para-shooters.

Indian Para Shooter Manish Narwal

Manish Narwal


Ananth Narasimman

Updated: 26 Aug 2021 9:06 AM GMT

Manish Narwal has had a roller coaster ride culminating in a maiden appearance at the grandest stage as one of India's brightest medal hopes. The starry-eyed boy from Faridabad, Haryana, had a keen interest in sports and grew up wanting to become a football player and represent the country at the highest levels in the sport.

Unfortunately, he could not fulfil his footballing dreams due to a congenital ailment in his right hand, but with the encouragement and support of his father, Manish ventured into other sports to try and find his niche.

Dilbagh Narwal was a huge influence on his son as he tried doing anything in his power to make sure that his son's deformity did not hold him back. Mr Narwal being a keen wrestler himself, understood the importance of sports and the power it had to drastically change a person's life while keeping them healthy and happy.

Also Read: How many medals can India win at the Tokyo Paralympics?

He pushed his son to be the best version of himself, and Manish caught on quick, soaking in the wisdom his father imparted to him. A quote that his father said particularly stuck with Manish as he rose to be one of the leading lights in the country's sporting scene.

"A man's thinking makes him paralysed, not a physical deformity," said Mr Narwal to the young kid who could not quite comprehend what his father meant at that particular juncture of his life.

However, as he grew older and started to gain more experience, he understood what that meant and has stuck by it, holding on to it as a mantra while setting an example and kicking the door down for future athletes.

January 2016 changed the lives of both father and son, along with seeing the emergence of one of India's brightest stars. After long hours of deliberation and struggle trying to find the right sport, Manish finally decided to try his hand at shooting after a suggestion from a family friend whom he fondly refers to as Lala bhaiya.

Also Read: Who are India's medal prospects for the Tokyo Paralympics?

"I always wanted to be a footballer as I loved outdoor sports. But due to my disability, I couldn't play the game beyond the local club level. A close friend of my father told him to think about introducing me to shooting. My father took me to the TenX shooting academy in Ballabgarh, run by coach Rakesh Thakur. Had he not been there, I wouldn't have excelled in the sport. I owe my success to him," said Manish, reports TOI.

There was no looking back since then as he went on a mindboggling tear, racking up medals and trophies in a short span while competing against some of the best in the world who have years of experience over him.

Manish has broken world records and won gold medals at the biggest stages under the brightest lights. He also faced tough competition who had more years of training and international exposure compared to him, but as the saying goes," When the going gets tough, the tough get going!"

Manish dominated Nationals as he won an astounding 19 medals from 2016-2019, setting him apart from his peers and establishing himself as a medal hopeful at major international events too. He announced his arrival at the international stage in the 2018 Asian Para Games, where he won gold in the P1 men's 10m air pistol SH1.

He quickly racked up another three medals at the 2019 World Championships in Sydney, striking fear in the hearts of the competition while being focused on doing better with every attempt.

The highlight of his young yet successful career up until now came at the Al Ain 2021 World Shooting Para Sport World Cup, where he set a world record and won the gold at the P4 Mixed 50m pistol SH1 event.

Manish was rewarded for his efforts and accomplishments with the Arjuna award, making him one of the youngest recipients of the prestigious honour.

However, the young gun seems to be focused on the task at hand and does not seem to be carried away despite receiving one of the highest honours at a very nascent stage of his career, holding him in good stead for the future. "I never thought of an Arjuna as the focus has been on my game. The rest of the things take care of themselves," he says in an interview with Indian Shooting.

His ability to remain focused and look at the bigger picture irrespective of the circumstances and obstacles placed in front of him will surely help him firmly establish himself as one of the best to ever play the sport.

The first step to establishing yourself as one of the greatest, especially in a sport like shooting, would be to win a Paralympic medal, and Manish is well on his way to doing just that. Do not be surprised if you see the young star land up on the podium at the Tokyo Paralympics, as he posses the capability and the willpower to overcome the best and win the gold.

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