Nitesh Kumar- World No. 8 all set to represent India in Asian Para Games 2018
When I was 15, I met with an accident and was left with a permanent injury. My left leg got amputated. It was an age when I had no idea what it could lead to and what would happen next. But it was my family’s support that helped me move out of it, and didn’t let me feel embarrassed.
I was hospitalized for about 3 months. As soon as I came back from hospital, I had my 10th class board exams to prepare for. With the support from family members, I was mentally prepared to appear in the exams. My school was very supportive as well. I was allowed to sit in my board exams directly and got help from my tuition classes to prepare in a short span of time. But altogether, life was tough physically and mentally. I have been a sports person since my school days and compromising with sports was terrible.
I wanted a prosthetic support. It took me two months to get back to my feet independently. Every minute, things required extra attention, even something as simple as walking. Attending school regularly was different. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t play. I could just focus on my studies to be stable in life.
In this phase of my life, I channelized my energy into studies. It was 2013 when I got selected for a preparatory course at IIT Roorkee and then got shifted to IIT Mandi in 2014. It was my time at IIT Roorkee, where I developed interest in badminton. That spark for sports was still alive within me. I started moving out of my comfort zone. I tried to push myself and that’s when I started pursuing it physically. When I got shifted to IIT Mandi, I had an aim to represent my institute in badminton and I feel thankful to IIT Mandi family for their unconditional support from the beginning. With time, I got to know about para sports and thought of pursuing it as a career.
I hail from Haryana and the state federation helped me to participate in nationals para event at Faridabad in 2016 and I won a bronze medal in singles. Soon, I got the opportunity to represent India at Indonesian Para Badminton International 2016 and Asian Para Badminton Championship 2016. It was a medal-less outing for me at both the events. 2017 and 2018 turned out to be fruitful for me. I had to make few tough decisions, but my hard work started paying me back. I had to forego a recruitment offer to pursue badminton.
In 2017, besides winning a silver medal at Nationals in Bangalore, I also clinched my first International title at Ireland Para Badminton International 2017. In 2018, I have a big tournament on my list- Asian Para Games 2018. I chose to take a year’s break after my 7th semester to prepare for it and my institute supported me to achieve my dream. And, I started my medal winning streak with double bronze medals at Nationals 2018 in singles and doubles. I also had various international medals this year including silver in doubles it Dubai, silver in singles and bronze in doubles in Uganda, and bronze in singles in Turkey, defeating top athletes in all of these encounters. Most importantly, I moved up to become World No. 8 in May.
With this splendid performance, I finally got selected to represent India at Asian Para Games 2018, to be held at Jakarta from 6th-13th Oct 2018 and I will be playing in the event MD SL3-SL4. Also, I look forward to getting a better prosthetic support for my improved mobility after Asian games 2018 in October.