India bets on Haryana girl Aruna for a medal in Paralympics 2021
Last month, India’s taekwondo para athlete Aruna Tanwar, had anxious moments for some days. She was not sure whether she and other para taekwondo athletes from India would be able to take part in the world and Asian qualifiers in Jordon or not in order to qualify for the Paralympics 2021 to be held in Tokyo.
She was disappointed when the Indian athletes missed the qualifiers in Jordan due to a travel ban. With that her dream of representing India at Paralympics 2021 crashed. And when on June 9, Aruna came to know that she was among the many eight athletes from eight nations, who have been provided the bipartite quotas for Tokyo by IOC and World Taekwondo, the 21-year-old was thrilled.
“I was so upsetting to lose out on a chance in Jordan. It is like a dream come true now with Taekwondo World giving a go ahead to me for Paralympics 2021,” said Aruna, 21, the 2019 World Para Taekwondo Championship bronze medal winner. The Tokyo Paralympics will be held from August 24 to September 5.
Aruna, a scholar of BPEd at Chandigarh University, Mohali, is the current World No. 4 in the women’s U-49 category. A five time national champion, she has finished on the podium in the last four years at both Asian Para Taekwondo Championships and World Para Taekwondo Championships.
Aruna grew up in Dinod village near Bhiwani in Haryana, taking keen interest in athletics and martial arts despite deformity in both hands. Daughter of a factory driver and part-time farmer Naresh Kumar, Tanwar, was awestruck when boxer Paramjeet Samota from her village received a rousing welcome after winning a gold in 2010 Commonwealth Games 11 years ago.
“He has been an inspiration. The way he was welcomed that day made me work on turning into an athlete. We were not well-placed financially but my parents made sure I chased my dreams and made them proud. My father has slogged hard to give me this life,” said Tanwar, who will be the first paralympic participant from India to compete in Tokyo. She just has three fingers each in both her hands and the size of her arms is small.
“It was heart-breaking to see such athletes’ dreams getting shattered due to the pandemic. So, we requested World Taekwondo body and were elated to see Aruna getting a wild card entry,” said Sukhdev Raj, coach and general secretary Para Taekwondo Association of India.
In total, eight athletes from eight countries were offered bipartite invitations for the Tokyo event. World
Overall 72 athletes from 37 nations will compete as Para Taekwondo makes its Paralympic debut this summer in Tokyo and India will have Aruna fighting hard for a medal.