Praveen Kumar, who won a silver medal for India in the Tokyo Paralympics, took up high jump only in 2016. For two years, he relied on Google to learn, until he got in touch with a coach in 2018. Kumar also revealed that volleyball was his first love, before making a move to the track.
Indian para-athletes have done the country mighty proud after they won a rich haul of 19 medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Right from athletics, to shooting and badminton, the 54-member contingent put up a brave fight in their respective disciplines, to bring laurels for the country. While many of these athletes are starting to become household names now, not many know about their struggles.
High jumper Praveen Kumar, who won a silver medal on Friday, did not even have a proper coach for a long time, and would depend on videos from Google to learn.
“I would watch videos of high jump on Google and try and learn from it. There was nobody to teach me. Later, during a district-level meeting, I was told about coach Dr. Satyapal and met him and he agreed to train me,” said Praveen Kumar, who won silver in Men’s High Jump T44 at the Paralympic Games on Friday.
Kumar, who was initially drawn towards volleyball, did not believe that he could reach this far in high jump.
“I was a volleyball player but got to know about para-athletics and high jump in 2016. I got my initial knowledge by watching videos on Google. It was during a district-level athletics championship that I was told about coach Dr. Satyapal. I went and met him in 2018, he checked about my classification and then he agreed to train me,” said Kumar.
Kumar also spoke about the fears he had, going into the competition. “When the bar was set at 1.97, I was a bit low on confidence as I had missed an attempt at that height and was worried whether I will be able to do it or not. I managed to clear it in the next attempt. But once the bar was raised to 2.01 and I cleared it without any issues, my confidence too rose as I was now in the top three and thus assured of a medal.
“I went for my next few jumps with a lot of confidence. I decided not to think of any other thing, no other competitors, no rain or slippery conditions, just concentrated on my jumps, I decided that I had to give my best, the rain, the conditions notwithstanding,” Kumar said during a media interaction facilitated by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) along with Eurosport, the Tokyo 2020 broadcast rights holders for India.