Paralympic champion Krishna Nagar targets Paris 2024 qualification

Krishna Nagar created history by becoming only the second player from the country to win Paralympic gold in the racquet sport after Pramod Bhagat in Tokyo.

Published : Jun 26, 2023 09:35 IST , CHENNAI - 3 MINS READ

Krishna Nagar of India in action. (File Photo)
Krishna Nagar of India in action. (File Photo) | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Krishna Nagar of India in action. (File Photo) | Photo Credit: REUTERS

For Krishna Nagar, home is where the heart is. The para-badminton player is required to travel for national camps, but Jaipur is his happy place.

Nagar was born in Rajasthan’s capital in 1999 and has been living in Pratap Nagar, one of the largest residential areas in the city, ever since. “I am very lucky. I am still in touch with my childhood friends, and we all are there for each other,” he says.

The creation of Nagar, the Paralympic champion, also began there only.

“At first, I didn’t play badminton professionally. I watched, picked up things quickly and then tried them in a court in our garden against my friends. Towards the end of 2016, I started going to the Sawai Mansingh Stadium to play to stay fit and active,” he says.

Nagar, who was diagnosed with dwarfism at the age of two, adds, “Few days after joining the stadium, I got to know about para-badminton through another para shuttler who was in town for a few days.”

The 4’5” Nagar trained under coach Yadvendra Singh and his journey as a para-athlete began with two gold medals (in both singles and doubles) at the 2018 Nationals in Varanasi.

RELATED | Canada Para International C’ship: Krishna grabs two gold as India finishes with 20 medals

Three years later, under the tutelage of head coach of the Indian para-badminton team and Dronacharya awardee Gaurav Khanna, the then World No. 2 created history by becoming only the second player from the country to win Paralympic gold in the racquet sport after Pramod Bhagat in Tokyo.

Left-handed Nagar outlasted Chu Man Kai of Hong Kong 21-17, 16-21, 21-17 in the men’s singles final of the SH6 class for players having a short stature due to a genetic condition. He was one of the 12 players to receive the 2021 Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.

However, the glory in Japan was followed by a personal loss for Nagar. Two months after the gold medal, Nagar’s mother, who he names as the most influential person in his career as per his BWF profile, passed away. Even his father wasn’t well and had to be hospitalised. “I did not play for some time after the Paralympics,” says Nagar, a Bachelor’s in Computer Application graduate from Jaipur National University.

Mission Paris 2024 qualification

In March 2022, he returned to action in Spain, where he played a couple of tournaments before heading to his next destination - Bahrain. “I went to Bahrain, had pimples and experienced light fever. At that point, I did not know if those were symptoms of Chickenpox,” he recalls.

From Bahrain, Nagar travelled for his next tournament to Dubai but was forced to withdraw without playing a match and head back home as his symptoms had worsened. He mentions that it took him almost two-and-a-half months to recover, and as a result, went down in the rankings.

Nagar feels that his opponents have become better since Tokyo 2020. “After the event, all those players have trained hard. Competition has increased in every category,” he says. To improve his game, Nagar, a naturally attacking player, is focusing on longer rallies, bringing more pace variation to his shots and staying patient on the court.

And he already has his next target set - Mission Paris 2024 qualification. “I have found my rhythm back and am trying to improve my ranking,” says Nagar, who has won bronze in Thailand, silver in Bahrain and recently, gold medal in Canada in singles this year while also doing well in doubles. As of June 20, he is World No. 5 and third in the qualification race for next year’s Paralympics.

“I want to quickly qualify for next year’s Paralympics. If I am in the top five (in the Race to Paris), it will be safe for me. Asian Games and World Championships are coming soon. Both are part of the Paralympic qualification, and the points gained in these events are added. So, they are important.”

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