New Delhi: Women's pair of Palak Kohli and Parul Parmar on Friday became the first Indian para shuttlers to qualify for Tokyo Paralympics.
The 18-year-old Palak and veteran Parul, who couldn't compete at the Spanish para-Badminton International (May 11-16), due to travel restriction in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, received an official initimation from the world body BWF on Friday.
Palak and her partner Parul have achieved the qualification for the SL3-SU5 Women's Doubles event in para-badminton, which will be making its debut in this year's Paralympics.
"We got the official communication today and I am ecstatic to hear the news," said Palak, who is the youngest para-badminton player in the world to qualify for Tokyo Paralympics.
The duo is currently ranked sixth in the world.
"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."
The top six pairs in the BWF ranking have qualified. The ranking was released after the completion of the Spanish Open.
"I am really grateful that we have been able to clear the first obstacle of getting a Paralympics medal. We have to now set our targets at the podium and devote all our energy in the upcoming days to achieve the goals."
The duo was ranked fifth before the Spanish event and even though they had made the qualification criteria, they were waiting for the official communication, which was due after the Spanish event.
Palak and Parul are currently training at the Gaurav Khanna Excellia Badminton Academy, the first Indian professional para-badminton academy, in Lucknow.
"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," Khanna said.
"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."
Palak will represent India in the Paralympics in two events.
After making it to the SL3-SU5 Women's doubles event, Palak now awaits a call in the SU5 Singles category, where she's currently ranked number 11 in the world.