It was a busy day for Tokyo Paralympics silver medallist 23-year-old Nishad Kumar on Sunday. While he attended the honour ceremony at his alma mater DAV College in Sector 10, Chandigarh, along with his parents Rashpal Singh and Pushpa Devi apart from sister Rama Kumari, the evening was spent in the honour ceremony of his coach Naseem Ahmad, who retired from the Haryana sports department on August 31. It was the Teacher’s Day as well and the young Himachal athlete dedicated his silver medal to his family, coaches and the nation.
“It was a matter of immense pride and happiness that I won the silver medal on the occasion of National Sports Day on August 29 and could provide the whole country moments of joy. To see the Paralympics medallists getting the same kind of support and appreciation for their medals as the Tokyo Olympics makes me proud and I guess this is the start of new Paralympic revolution in India,” said Kumar while talking to The Indian Express.
A native of Badaun village near Una in Himachal Pradesh, a young Nishad lost his right hand in a fodder-cutting machine accident at the age of six years while helping his mother Pushpa Devi. With his father Rashpal Singh owning one acre of farmland and working as a mason on daily wage at the village, it was a tough time for the youngster. It was at the insistence of coach Ramesh at the Saraswati Vidya Mandir at nearby Katohar Khurd that the youngster started pursuing athletics. Nishad would compete in the general category and won a silver medal in high jump in school nationals in 2013 and competed in general category till 2016. The same year, Nishad came to Panchkula to train under coach Vikram Chaudhary and later Naseem Ahmand, initial coach of Neeraj Chopra, who would eventually win gold at Tokyo Olympics, that the youngster started competing in events for the specially abled athletes. Nishad won the silver medal in national para athletics championship in Panchkula in 2018 before he won the bronze medal in the World Para Athletics Championship in Dubai with a jump of 2.00m.
“When Ramesh sir told me about athletics, I competed in high jump and running. But within months, I only focused on high jump as I was fascinated by the technique and the art of high jump with the Fosbury Flop technique. Later, Naseem Ahmad sir and Vikram Chaudhary sir helped me in whatever way they could. At that time, the sports nursery at Tau Devi Lal Stadium was stopped and it was tough time managing the rent and other expenses for my family. My medal is the biggest gift which I can give to my coaches as well as my alma mater DAV College, where I competed in inter-university and other competitions,” Nishad said.
At Tokyo Paralympics, Nishad made the best jump of 2.06m — his personal best — to claim the silver medal while American Roderick Townsend won the gold medal with the best jump of 2.15 m in the men’s high jump in T-47 category. With next year’s Asian Para games in China and World Athletics Championships in Japan in his sight, the youngster hopes to keep the momentum till the 2024 Paris Paralympics and to stay on his target of winning the gold.
“The weather was a bit humid in Tokyo and it made me suffer a little. I was confident of crossing my personal best but the conditions were humid for everybody. Next year’s Para Asian Games and World Para Championship is my next target before the 2024 Paris Paralympics where I would aim to change the colour of my medal,” said Nishad.