As the archers took their position in the compound archery team event at the NTPC Senior Archery Championship, only one took up their position while sitting on a wheelchair.

Rakesh Kumar, the only para-athlete to compete alongside full-fledged athletes, finished ninth in the group events qualifying, scoring 701 out of a possible 720 points.

The 36-year-old world No.11 from Jammu is India’s highest ranked para-athlete in open compound archery.

Rakesh won a gold medal at the 7th Fazza Para Archery World Ranking Tournament in Dubai this year and finished sixth at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Eight years ago, the same archery champion was depressed from a spinal cord injury.

In 2009, after recovering from his injury, he realized he would stay in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, which led to depression.

“The condition was so bad that I even thought about killing myself. But then I decided to get busy and open a mobile recharge store in Katra, ”he said. Sports star.

“It was there that I met my trainer Kuldeep Vedwan.”

“When I met Rakesh (in 2017), I motivated him and asked him to try archery at the Jammu Academy which had just opened. He hasn’t turned back since, ”Kuldeep said Sports star.

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Rakesh praised the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Council, the body that maintains the sacred shrine, the Sports Authority of India and the Indian Archery Association for their support, and noted the importance of psychologists and dieticians in sport.

Rakesh himself has been followed by a sports psychologist and dietitian since 2020.

“Archery is a mind game,” he said. “When we shoot in local fields, there is an added pressure. So just as the coach is essential for us, psychologists are just as important. “

“Since we (the para-athletes) are in a wheelchair, we might not eat a lot, but digestion becomes an issue and therefore a good dietitian is very important,” he added.

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This year, Rakesh shot 699 points out of a maximum of 720 points at the Tokyo Paralympics, the highest score by an Indian para-archer in the qualifying round.

Rakesh is now working harder for the 2024 Paralympic Games instead of looking back on his performances in Tokyo.