Palak Kohli will be part of the seven-member badminton contingent representing India at the 2021 Paralympic Games, scheduled to be played in Tokyo between August 24 and 5 September. At the age of 19, she is one of the fast-rising stars in the world of para-badminton.
Kohli will be playing in as many as three disciplines—women's singles SU5 and the women's and mixed doubles SL3–SU5. With the Paralympics scheduled to get underway today, here are five things you probably did not know about the Indian ace.
#1 Palak Kohli is the youngest badminton player to qualify for the Paralympics
Kohli, who picked up the sport back in 2016 as a 14-year-old, made history by becoming the youngest Indian player to qualify for the Paralympics.
The 19-year-old has made rapid strides within a short span of five years and booked her spot at the quadrennial last year. And while this will be the first time that badminton will be a part of the Paralympics, it does not take anything away from the youngster's incredible achievement.
#2 Palak Kohli is the only shuttler from India to have qualified for three events
Palak Kohli is the only member of the Indian badminton contingent who has qualified for three disciplines at the 2021 Paralympics.
The 19-year-old is ranked No. 11 in the women's singles SU5 rankings. Her strongest suit, however, is the women's doubles SL3-SU5 event, where she will partner the seasoned campaigner Parul Parmar. The duo are currently ranked No. 6 in the world. Kohli will also play in the mixed doubles SL3-SU5 event with Pramod Bhagat.
#3 Palak Kohli stayed at the training camp during the COVID-19-induced lockdown
Palak Kohli trains at the Gaurav Khanna Excellia Badminton Academy, the country's first professional para-badminton academy based in Lucknow.
Kohli also made the tough decision to stay put at the academy during the COVID-19-induced lockdown. The teen decided to make the sacrifice of being away from the family to ensure her training schedule was not disrupted.
#4 Palak Kohli's tryst with badminton was coincidental
Palak Kohli may have reached her peak at the young age of 19, but it wasn't a career path that the youngster had planned while growing up.
A chance meeting with a stranger at a shopping mall was what first introduced Kohli to the world of para-sports. The youngster says she was encouraged to take up para-badminton after the meeting that took place back in 2016. The fact that she has only been playing the sport for five years makes her meteoric rise an even more remarkable story.
#5 Palak Kohli skipped her Board exams to play at the Olympic qualifiers
Kohli also skipped her Class XII board exams as the dates clashed with the 2020 Peru International, which was one of the last qualification events for the Paralymics. The move paid dividends as the youngster was able to secure the coveted qualification spot.