“We have now set our targets at the podium"
A badminton doubles pair with 30 years between them have qualified to represent India at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Palak Kohli, aged 18, and Parul Parmar, aged 48, are the first Indian para-shuttlers to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics.
The pair received an official confirmation from the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Friday, May 21, 2021.
The duo will compete in the SL3-SU5 women’s doubles event.
The event is one of 14 badminton categories to make its debut at the Tokyo Paralympics.
The categories include seven men’s events, six womens and one mixed.
Speaking about qualifying, Palak Kohli said:
“We got the official communication today and I am ecstatic to hear the news.”
Kohli is the youngest para-badminton player in the world to qualify for Tokyo.
She will also be competing at the women’s singles SU5 event and is India’s biggest medal hope.
Palak Kohli also mentioned that she has been training under chief national coach Gaurav Khanna.
They have set specific targets to achieve at the Paralympics, and are training at Khanna’s para-badminton academy in Lucknow, the first of its kind in India.
“In the last few months, we have been pushing ourselves and training hard.
“Even in the pandemic, we continued to train under the guidance of Gaurav Khanna sir and never deterred from our focus.
“I am really grateful that we have been able to clear the first obstacle.
“We have now set our targets at the podium and devote all our energy in the upcoming days to achieve the goals.”
Coach Gaurav Khanna also expressed his delight at Palak Kohli and Parul Parmar qualifying for the Paralympics.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Palak and Parul are the first ones from the Indian para-badminton contingent to receive their tickets to Tokyo Paralympics.
“The pandemic has been difficult on all of us, but this news has brought some positivity.”
“We now have to prepare keeping in mind the level of difficulties the Paralympics will have for us and the work gets somewhat easier for us by having a dedicated training facility.
“We are extremely grateful to the Sports Authority of India, BAI, Welspun India who has been constantly supporting us.”
Despite the age gap between them, Kohli and Parmar are one of India’s best doubles pairs in badminton in recent years.
The pair are currently ranked sixth in the world and have won four titles together since 2019.
The rankings were released after the Spanish Open, where the Indian players were unable to participate due to the country’s Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Their coordination on the badminton court is what makes the pair so unstoppable.
Parul Parmar usually plays further towards the net. But Palak Kohli jumps from one corner to the other to return the shuttle.