The Hindustan Times Trailblazer Award 2021: Pooja Agarwal
When adversity and misfortune struck Pooja Agarwal, little did she know that her determination and never-say-die attitude would lead her to glorious achievements. A trilateral amputee who lost both her legs and her arm in a train accident in 2012, 32-year-old Pooja Agarwal began shooting professionally.
Pooja won her first International medal at the World Shooting Para Sport World Cup in Al Ain, UAE in 2017, a silver for the 10m air pistol event. She currently ranks 14th in the world and 11th in Asia. She says, “I believe that whatever you do in your life, to do it with your heart to succeed in life.”
Recalling the fateful day, she narrates how an unknown group whom she had never seen before pushed her towards the railway track and within seconds, she was crushed by a speeding train. She was there to see off her husband whom she eventually divorced due to the differences that crept in their marriage after the accident and the subsequent amputations.
Not one to cry over her destiny, she took up shooting in 2016 and the rest is history. She says, “In the pandemic, I could not train so I used that time judiciously to start my YouTube channel where in I impart tips on how to exercise at home, fold clothes, chop onions and tomatoes, peel almonds, sew with one hand to individuals who could be facing challenges due to an amputation.”
Like most of us the pandemic taught her to prioritise and organize work and family time. “COVID-19 touched every single person, creating a high degree of uncertainty. It became even more important to have a routine, prioritize, demonstrate empathy and engage with people to understand what their concerns are, that is what I focused on with my channel.”
Call her an inspiration and she is quick to add, “I have learnt to enjoy my work and it humbles me to know that people get inspired.” Pooja has been training for the Paralympic Games to be held in Tokyo, Japan in August 2021 and aspires to make India proud by securing a gold medal.
Happy to receive the HT Trailblazer award, she says, “I am thoroughly pleased to be the recipient of this honour, however, it is so sad that there are restrictions in place on account of Covid-19.”