Confident and outgoing, young Palak Kohli is the epitome of singlemindedness.
The 18-year-old Indian Para shuttler, chasing a lifelong dream, has made a big call to put her studies on hold for an appearance at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in August.
The Jalandhar native has delayed her 12th standard board exams until after the event, which will witness Para badminton’s bow and Kohli as the youngest competitor in her sport.
“I sacrificed a lot of things for the Paralympics,” Kohli, who will compete in women’s singles and doubles in Japan, told the Olympic Channel.
“I decided to give my board exams a miss (in 2020) to participate at the Peru and Brazil Para Badminton International tournaments, which were the Paralympic qualification events.
“Hearing it got postponed was a tough one. My coach (Gaurav Khanna) told me it had given me one more year to work upon my game. He worked on making me a more skill-based player.”
At the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum 3rd Dubai Para Badminton International 2021 early this month, Kohli bagged three medals in the Standing Upper (SU5) category – women’s singles silver and bronze in women’s doubles (with Parul Parmar) and mixed doubles (with Pramod Bhagat).
Kohli, whose left arm is not fully developed, also participated in singles after almost a year and a half as she is recovering from a leg injury, which kept her bedridden for three months.
“Dubai was very special because it was the first time since 2019 World Championships that I played a singles event,” said the SU5 women’s singles world No.11.
“I was diagnosed with bone marrow edema in the left leg after the World Championships. When I play, the muscles stick to the bone to protect it. This causes muscle strain and stiffness.
“So we are strengthening the rest of the body, so that part of the leg doesn’t take extra load. I’m happy we are dealing with it and overcoming it.”
The pandemic lockdown last year helped the teenager recover physically and gave her time to come back stronger.
Now that she is back on the circuit, Kolhi is ready for more and will compete at the Spanish Para Badminton International 2021 next month (11-16 May).