CHENNAI: Almost five years ago, Krishna Nagar was a victim of bullying in college because of his short stature. Afflicted by a growth impairment since childhood, he stands at 4 feet and 3 inches. By the time he got into college, he had not let his disability come in the way and was into various sports like volleyball, athletics and cricket. But the bullying by his peers in college impacted Krishna so badly that he became a loner. He stopped going out and interacting with friends.
Sensing the gravity of the situation, his father Sunil Nagar decided to take his son to a badminton academy at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur. The move turned out to be a watershed moment in Krishna's life. On Sunday, Krishna claimed a gold medal in the men's singles SH6 category. He defeated Hong Kong's Chu Man Kai 21-17, 16-21, 21-17 in the final.
"The bullying changed my son's life and he is now a Paralympic gold medallist. It motivated him to prove his detractors wrong and he did that in style by winning gold," Sunil told this daily from Jaipur. Sunil, too, was a sportsperson and played taekwondo, judo, baseball, softball and baseball at the competitive level.
Sunil wanted to join the Indian Army, but his height — 5 feet 5 inches — turned out to be a deterrent. He, however, took it in his stride and started working as a fitness trainer. But his world turned upside down when doctors told him his eldest son, Krishna, has a growth impairment. "He was only two at that time. Doctors told us about a treatment but it was risky. So I encouraged him to play sports hoping for normal growth. My other children — a daughter and a son — had normal growth," added Sunil.
All those apprehensions gave way to hope and hunger for success when Krishna started making an impression at the national and international level. "Once he started doing good, he came in contact with coach Gaurav Khanna and rest is history," said the father.
Krishna was obviously pleased with the magnitude of his achievement. "An Olympic or Paralympic medal is a huge thing. We had declared that we will win 5-6 medals and we have won 4 medals. One or two performances were a little up and down but we will improve on that front in upcoming events," the 22-year-old said during an interaction organised by official broadcaster Eurosport and Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
After winning the first game, Krishna lost the second one and that had put him under pressure. "My mindset was that I have to be positive... I didn't make many errors during the match but in the second game, when there were some negatives, I was under pressure when things got away a bit. Due to drift, I lost the second game since I was not able to play to my strengths. But in the third game, I managed it well."
India's para shuttlers have ended the campaign with four medals, including two gold, one silver and one bronze.