7 Indian Female Para Athletes Who Shone at Asian Para Games 2023
By: WE Staff
The recently held Asian Para Games 2023 introduced India to a new crop of athletic talent, i.e., para-athletes, which included a host of talented women sportsperson too. Their triumph in archery, shooting, athletics, etc is cause for celebration for the whole nation. Let’s get to know more about the triumphant women para-athletes.
The Asian Para Games 2023, held in Hangzhou, from October 22 to 28, China witnessed the remarkable performance of Indian para-athletes, who bagged a record-breaking 111 medals, including 32 golds, 40 silvers, and 46 bronzes.
PM Modi met the Indian contingent back from their triumphant run at the Asian Para Games 2023. he not only congratulated the athletes but also promised to strengthen the sports infrastructure of the country. While addressing the contingent, he also highlighted how important this victory is for India as a nation.
He said, “They (Indian para-athletes) make everyone sit up and think, if someone with disability is doing so well, it becomes an inspiration for them (able-bodied). Your performance affects people in all walks of life by inspiring them."
Among the Indian para-athletic team were several female para-athletes who shone with their courage, determination and excellence. Here are seven of them who not only won medals and have also become the source of inspired for every Indian woman.
Avani Lekhara is no stranger to making history. The 23-year-old shooter from Jaipur became the first Indian woman to win a Paralympic gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020. She also became the first Indian to win two Paralympic medals in the same edition, with a gold in the 10m air rifle standing SH1 event and a bronze in the 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 event.
At the Asian Para Games 2023, she continued her golden run by clinching four medals, including two golds in the 10m air rifle standing SH1 and mixed team events, a silver in the 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 event, and a bronze in the 10m air rifle prone SH1 event. She also set a new Asian record of 249.8 points in the 10m air rifle standing SH1 final.
Lekhara was involved in a car accident when she was 11 years old, which left her paralyzed from the waist down. She took up shooting as a hobby after reading Abhinav Bindra's autobiography. She soon discovered her talent and passion for the sport and started competing at national and international levels.
Palak Kohli was the most successful Indian para-athlete at the Asian Para Games 2023, with a total of five medals. The 19-year-old badminton player from Jalandhar won gold in the women's singles SL3 event, a silver in the women's doubles SL3-SU5 event with Parul Parmar, and three bronze medals in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 event with Manoj Sarkar, the women's team event, and the mixed team event.
Kohli was born with a congenital deformity in her left hand. She started playing badminton at the age of nine after being inspired by Saina Nehwal. She joined the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad and trained under Pullela Gopichand and Raj Kumar. She made her international debut in 2018 at the Thailand Para-Badminton International.
Kohli also represented India at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020, where she partnered with Pramod Bhagat to win a bronze medal in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 event. She became the youngest Indian para-badminton player to win a Paralympic medal. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in commerce from Lovely Professional University.
Manasi Joshi is another star performer for India in the para-badminton events. The 32-year-old engineer-turned-badminton player from Mumbai won a gold medal in the women's singles SL4 event, defeating world number one Leani Ratri Oktila of Indonesia in the final. She also won a silver medal in the women's doubles SL3-SU5 event with Nithya Sre and a bronze medal in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 event with Pramod Bhagat.
Joshi lost her left leg in a road accident in 2011 when she was working as a software engineer. She underwent an amputation and received a prosthetic leg. She resumed playing badminton, which she had started at the age of six, as a form of rehabilitation. She soon realized her potential and decided to pursue the sport professionally. She quit her job and joined the Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad.
Joshi made her mark on the international stage by winning a bronze medal at the 2015 Para-Badminton World Championships in Stoke Mandeville, England. She repeated the feat in 2017 in Ulsan, South Korea. She achieved her biggest breakthrough in 2019, when she won the gold medal at the Para-Badminton World Championships in Basel, Switzerland. She also represented India at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020, where she reached the quarter-finals of the women's singles SL4 event.
Ekta Bhyan is one of India's finest para-athletes in field events. The 37-year-old club thrower from Hisar added another feather to her cap by winning a gold medal in the women's club throw F51 event at the Asian Para Games 2023. She threw a distance of 16.68m to clinch her second consecutive Asian Para Games gold medal in this event. She also won a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta.
Bhyan suffered a spinal cord injury in a car accident in 2003, which left her wheelchair-bound. She completed her master's degree in political science and worked as a government employee. She took up para-athletics in 2014 after being inspired by Devendra Jhajharia, India's first Paralympic gold medalist. She trained under coach Naval Singh at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi.
Bhyan made her international debut in 2016 at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Berlin, where she won a silver medal. She also participated in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where she finished sixth. She won her first international gold medal at the 2018 World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Tunisia. She also represented India at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020, where she finished fourth.
Karamjyoti Dalal is one of India's most consistent para-athletes in the discus throw event. The 36-year-old discus thrower from Rohtak bagged a silver medal in the women's discus throw F55/56/57 event at the Asian Para Games 2023. She threw a distance of 19.61m to finish behind China's Yang Yue. She also won a bronze medal at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London.
Dalal was an able-bodied athlete who represented Haryana at the national level in judo and kabaddi. However, she suffered a spinal injury after falling from a terrace in 2008, which left her with limited mobility in her lower limbs. She went into depression and contemplated suicide. She was encouraged by her family and friends to take up para-athletics as a way of coping with her condition.
Dalal started training under coach R.D. Singh at the Sports Authority of India centre in Sonipat. She made her international debut in 2014 at the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea, where she finished fourth. She improved her performance and won a bronze medal at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai. She also represented India at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020, where she finished fifth.
Nidhi Mishra is one of India's promising para-athletes in the shot put event. The 29-year-old shot putter from Lucknow secured a bronze medal in the women's shot put F12/13 event at the Asian Para Games 2023. She threw a distance of 11.76m to finish behind Uzbekistan's Shakhnoza Abdullaeva and China's Li Yingli.
Mishra was born with a visual impairment that affects her depth perception and colour vision. She started playing sports at the age of 10, after joining the Drishti Samajik Sansthan, an NGO that works for the welfare of visually impaired people. She excelled in athletics, especially in shot put and discus throw. She trained under coach Anil Kumar at the Guru Gobind Singh Sports College in Lucknow.
Mishra made her international debut in 2018 at the Asian Para Games in Jakarta, where she finished fourth. She also participated in the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai, where she finished seventh. She qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics 2020, where she finished eighth.
Sakshi Kasana is one of India's emerging para-athletes in the javelin throw event. The 21-year-old javelin thrower from Meerut won a bronze medal in the women's javelin throw F64 event at the Asian Para Games 2023. She threw a distance of 24.77m to finish behind China's Wang Yanping and Iran's Hashemiyeh Motaghian Moavi.
Kasana was born with a congenital deformity in her right leg, which affected her growth and mobility. She faced discrimination and bullying from her peers and society. She found solace in sports, especially in athletics. She joined the Sports Authority of India centre in Ghaziabad and trained under coach Amit Kumar.
Kasana made her international debut at the Asian Para Games 2023, where she impressed everyone with her performance. She also qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics 2020, where she finished ninth.
These are some of the inspirational Indian female para-athletes who won medals at the Asian Para Games and proved that nothing is impossible with passion, perseverance and hard work. They have also shown the way forward for other aspiring para-athletes, especially women, who face many challenges and barriers in pursuing their dreams. They have made the nation proud and inspired millions with their stories.
Their stories will continue to echo through time, inspiring generations and leaving an indelible mark on the canvas of human achievement. As the world celebrates their victories, these phenomenal women have, and will continue to, pave the way for a more inclusive, empowered, and resilient society.