The Tokyo Paralympics 2020 is all set to commence on 24th August, 2021. Though the international parasports event was initially postponed due to the pandemic, it is now back on track and India has a line up of promising athletes, the country’s largest contingent since the Rio Paralympics of 2016.
Kashish Lakra is the youngest athlete from India to qualify for the Tokyo Paralympics 2020, in the Women’s Club Throw F51 category. Club throw is an athletic event where the objective is to throw a wooden club as far as possible. It was introduced for both men and women for the first time at the Summer Paralympic Games of 1960.
Club Throw was subsequently dropped from the women’s category from the Paralympics in Barcelona, in 1992, but was reinstated at the games in London, in 2012. The event is one of the four throwing events, along with discus throw, javelin throw and shot put at the Paralympics.
Equipped with rigorous practice and steadfast determination, Kashish Lakra is prepared to make the most of the upcoming Paralympic games.
Passionate about different kinds of sports from a young age
Born in the capital city of India, as a young girl Kashish Lakra loved sports and aspired to carve a niche for herself in the sports world. She was not only good at multiple sports like badminton, shot put, wrestling, speed ball and skating, but also won several medals for them at various competitions.
She recalls winning the second position at a State skating competition. During her initial teenage years, Kashish Lakra wanted to become a badminton player, but due to financial constraints, her dream took a back seat. She continued her training in sports and upon guidance from one of her uncles, switched to freestyle wrestling.
Within a short time span of her training, she competed in wrestling at the State and National levels, and qualified for the prestigious Khelo India Championship in wrestling.
It was in the year 2017 that she met with an unfortunate accident that changed the course of her sports career. While training as usual at the Sushil Kumar Academy in Najafgarh, she slipped and took a fall landing on her neck, which damaged her spinal cord. She suffered irreversible vertebral injuries and has since, been bound to a wheelchair.
For her treatment, Kashish had to drop out from school as it was going to take time to recover. Post recovery, she was denied re-admission. In an interview with The New Indian Express, she says, “I thought it was the end of my life. I was hospitalised for a week. Then, we got to know about the Indian Spinal Injuries Center at Vasant Kunj, where I underwent treatment for 4.5 months. My physiotherapist, Vikram sir, helped me a lot. When he got to know that I am very passionate about sports, he introduced me to Satyapal Singh sir, who told me about Paralympics, and I started training with him for Club Throw.”
Building a career in Club Throw
Kashish Lakra has been determined to chase her dreams without giving up. With medication, physiotherapy, and support from her parents and family, she gradually mastered the sport of club throw under the guidance of her trainer Satyapal Singh. Kashish won gold at the State level Club Throw competitions, and a silver and another gold at the National level.
Kashish Lakra marked herself with yet another gold at the Nottwil World Para Athletics Junior Championship, Switzerland, 2019, and secured the fifth rank at the Senior Para Athletics Championship, Dubai, 2019. This boosted her confidence and now, she is all set to participate in the Tokyo Paralympics Games, the youngest athlete from India at the games.
Kashish Lakra is now focused on the upcoming games and she practices at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which is 40 km from her place of residence. She believes that it is because of her family’s support, coach’s guidance, and her school’s cooperation that has helped her come so far.
“My mother accompanies me to the practice sessions. She and brother would help me exercise. Even my maternal grandparents did everything possible for me. I could take up sports again only because of my family,” says Lakra.
She also acknowledges that the pandemic induced lockdowns have been a hurdle to her practice sessions. “I had to stop practicing as I didn’t have much space at home and since I am a thrower, practicing in parks would have been risky. An open ground is required to practice. The situation has improved now“, mentions the youngest athlete from the country to make it to the Tokyo Paralympics, 2020.
Kashish Lakra is irreversibly connected to sports and that is where she belongs. She has proved that through her consistent persuasion of various sports events. She is an inspiration and a talent to watch out for.