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Praveen Kumar high and handsome after silver-winning jump

From there on, there was no looking back. After searching on Google, he learned about Paralympics, which piqued his interest further.

Published: 04th September 2021 08:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th September 2021 08:20 AM   |  A+A-

Praveen Kumar in action on Friday | PTI

Express News Service

BENGALURU:   India para athlete Praveen Kumar has been fond of sports ever since his school days. He loved volleyball too, but his love for high jump multiplied with time and he decided to compete in school against able-bodied athletes. He was initially not allowed, but after his father, Amarpal Singh, spoke to the concerned authorities about his son’s interest, they allowed Kumar to participate and he performed well too.

From there on, there was no looking back. After searching on Google, he learned about Paralympics, which piqued his interest further. Few years after learning about the quadrennial event, the 18-year-old, who has a left leg impairment, was soon competing in his first Paralympics in Tokyo. He did not show much sign of nerves and delivered in style, winning a silver medal in the men’s high jump T64/T44 event with a 2.07m jump — a Asian record, on Friday.

He was not too far off from a historic gold medal, finishing just behind Great Britain’s Jonathan Broom-Edwards, who cleared 2.10m. Kumar had endured difficult times before the Games. He had also tested positive for Covid-19 in April, resulting in quarantine for a few months.

“Initially, I did not think I would have reached here. But I started high jump from my school, then I gradually learned about para athletics and Paralympics,” Kumar, who won silver in the junior worlds in 2019 and gold in the para athletics Grand Prix this year, said in a virtual interaction. 

The youngster from Govindgarh village in the Gautam Buddh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh deserves all plaudits. Kumar, alongside his coach Satyapal Singh, who has been training him from 2018 in the JLN stadium, did not want to stop their training due to Covid-19 enforced lockdown last year. They found out ways to train in a light manner.

“What we did (during lockdown) was train in some parks in Delhi, but we had to be careful and see that the police did not catch us. Training was important so we did some running, jumping and exercises,” Satyapal said. Even when he left for home, Kumar ensured that his training was not hampered much. The coach made some arrangements for gym equipments, but the problem was practising his jumps. For which, Amarpal came to the rescue and built a makeshift arrangement at his village though the soft landing mattress or cushion was not available.

“When he was at the village with us here, we somehow had a small kind of arrangement for him — to jump and train. We brought some sand from close by area and dug around two feet deep pit and filled it with sand and ensured that he does not get hurt in his leg or something,” said Amarpal, whose house has been filled with guests since morning, congratulating the father for his son’s effort.



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