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Monday, March 4, 2024

Meet the coach who helps Indian para badminton players win big

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Para badminton players like other sports people need a great coach to reach the top. Meet the coach who helps Indian para badminton players reach the top.

As badminton makes its Paralympic debut in Tokyo, a seven-member Indian team is poised to make a name for itself and return with a slew of medals. The team is comprised of rising stars like 19-year-old Palak Kohli as well as.experienced players like Arjuna awardee Pramod Bhagat.

Behind this strong team is a former badminton player named Gaurav Khanna, 46, from Lucknow, who has selflessly dedicated the last 15 years of his life to training athletes with disabilities and hearing impairments.

Gaurav began playing badminton at a young age and has won numerous state and national championships. His accomplishments aided him in beginning his career as an inspector with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in 1998.

But, he injured his knee during a doubles match at the Udaipur Nationals and was forced to withdraw from the tournament to avoid further injury. Despite the fact that it was his final match as a player, he did not want to abandon the sport entirely.

His mother, who came from humble beginnings, had spent the majority of her life helping the needy and people with disabilities (PwDs) in their hometown. As a religious person, she would go to the temple every day and give food or other necessities to those in need. She would occasionally assist them in crossing the street or walking into and out of the temple. Gaurav decided to follow in her footsteps and help others.

During a media interview, he stated that while he getting trained, Gauvar used to practice along with hearing-impaired players and also those who are disabled.. But, their participation would be the least as training happened rapidly, and they would find it hard to keep up. Hence, Guarav started supporting them.

He began by identifying and training a few hearing-impaired players from his former groups. Because he was paying special attention to them, the pupils would learn the game faster and produce better outcomes. Gaurav even learned sign language so that he could interact easily with his students.

There was no stopping him from here. He continues to identify players from various rehabilitation facilities and assist them on their journey.

Though it is a difficult undertaking, his desire to impart instruction and the student’s eagerness to learn keep him continuing. Aside from training, Gaurav ensures that promising players are sponsored by  public and private organisations.

Along with starting a non-profit coaching academy, in 2000, he was also made the national coach for the Indian deaf team. He became the coach for the Asian team in the Asia Europe Continental Deaf Championship, a year after his students took part in Deaf World Championships.

Among his students are World Champions like Manoj Sarkar, Pramod Bhagat, Parul Parmar, IAS officer Suhas LY.. In 2015, Gaurav was made the head coach for the Indian Para team for the world championships. That year, India won 13 medals.

In another media interview, he stated that for national-level para contests there would usually be just 40-50 entries. However, that number reached 150 in by 2017,  and exceeded 300 in 2019 . This growth came after the sport became popular among Indian para athletes.

In August last year Gaurav received the Dronacharya Award for what he had done for para-badminton. In 2020, he also launched a badminton academy called  Gaurav Khanna Excellia Badminton Academy. This academy was established as a dedicated space for players of para badminton.


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