Tokyo Paralympics: High jumper Nishad Kumar earned scholarship and made his university proud as well as his nation
Indian para-athlete Nishad Kumar looks to give his best at the Tokyo Paralympics
Named in the 24-member athletics team, Nishad Kumar will be looking to make the most out of the Tokyo Paralympics. The young high jumper has his sights set on the gold as he competes in the Men's High Jump (T-47). The boy from the small town of Una, in Himachal Pradesh, has jumped over many obstacles to reach where he is now.
In 2019, Kumar's personal best of 2 metres at the Dubai World Para Athletics Championship had booked his place in the Tokyo games. His jump had won him the bronze medal in the Men's High Jump T-47. It was a great experience for the teen athlete as he had found success by clinching a medal in his maiden World Championship. As soon as he had ensured his berth at the Paralympics, he knew his next target. Coach Satyanarayana, who had also mentored gold medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu in Rio 2016, spoke highly of Kumar and pegged him as one of the favourites for a podium finish at Tokyo.
Kumar, who gives equal importance to his education, is a student of Physical Education at the Lovely Professional University, which is situated in Punjab. Being a recipient of a full-ride scholarship, the athlete has not only made the country proud, but also his university. In 2019 itself, the proud institution had posted a tweet congratulating their student on his achievements. This year too, the university was in news for sending 11 of the Indian athletes that competed at the Tokyo Olympics, including Neeraj Chopra, who won the country's maiden Athletics gold medal.
Earlier this year, in February, Nishad Kumar set an Asian record at the 12th Fazza International Championships for World Para Athletics Grand Prix, held in Dubai. His 2.06m jump got him the gold in his category. This win will surely provide the needed motivation and momentum to the high jumper in order to achieve his goals.
But his trip back from bagging the record was an unpleasant one as he had tested positive for Covid-19. According to protocol, he was serving his 7-day quarantine, but a test during the same revealed he had contracted the virus. Just like he didn't let the accident at the age of 8 that resulted in the loss of his right hand discourage him, he didn't let this obstacle stop him either. After recovering, he went straight back to training and delivered 2 personal bests, while securing his place in the Indian contingent with a jump of 2.07m.
He's won the medals, he's set the records, and he has certainly announced himself to the world. All that remains is his performance at Tokyo. Be sure to tune in on the 28th of August as the determined jumper attempts to win the gold, and perhaps set a record.