New Delhi, Aug 31: High jumper Nishad Kumar on Tuesday said the feeling of winning a silver at the Tokyo Paralympics is finally "sinking in" after Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Tuesday felicitated him following his return to the country.
The 21-year-old Kumar created an Asian record when he cleared 2.06m to win the silver in the men's high jump T47 event on Sunday. "I could not believe that I had won a silver at the Paralympics. I asked four officials before I could actually believe it," he said in a release issued by the ministry.
"I feel honoured that I have been invited by the Sports Minister and he has met me and felicitated me on the very first day of my return to India. I have never had this experience before and now the feeling of the win is really sinking in."
Thakur said the government will provide all kind of support to the para athletes so that they can pursue the sport and bring laurels to the country. "India is ecstatic at the brilliant performance of our Paralympians. India has won its highest ever medal tally! We sent out the biggest contingent this year," he said.
"Nishad has shown that with perseverance success can be attained at the highest level. The government will continue to support India's Paralympians with facilities and funding so that they may continue to excel internationally. I have an additional reason to be thrilled by Nishad's success as he hails from my own state of Himachal Pradesh."
Minister of State for Sports Nisith Pramanik said that Kumar has fought very difficult circumstances from the age of eight and his life can prove to be a great inspiration for all. "His life's story can inspire all of us and teach us the lesson that despite hurdles, if we want, we can achieve our dreams. I congratulate Nishad on this feat," Pramanik said.
Kumar has been training at the national camp in SAI Bengaluru under the guidance of coach Satyanarayana. He had a roller-coaster year as he had tested positive for COVID-19 twice but he continued improving and set two personal bests in 2021. He jumped 2.07m at the Para Athletics Selection Trials held in Delhi in June, and this helped him secure a spot on the Indian team for the Tokyo Paralympics. He won a gold medal in the High Jump T47 category at the Fazza Para Athletics Grand Prix in Dubai right before the COVID-19 pandemic and repeated the feat at the same competition by winning the elusive gold, also in 2021.
Kumar's right hand was damaged by a grass-cutting machine on his family's farm. But he did not let this incident deter his spirit. Two years later, he started high jump practice at his school ground. Kumar competed in the School Nationals, along with able-bodied athletes, in 2017 where he finished 10th with a jump of 1.75m. After completing his schooling in the same year, Kumar moved to Panchkula to train at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium.