Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh’s Prachi Yadav, India’s first and only canoe-sprint entry to Tokyo Paralympics, made it to the final. It is a feat that para-sportspersons say will open several opportunities.
“Though Prachi couldn’t win a medal, her impressive performance has brought glory to the state and to the nation. Her feat will inspire disabled people to opt for sports as a career. Para athletes do not get ample opportunities because of inadequate resources. Prachi’s feat may bring a change,” para swimmer Satyendra Lohiya, who has been a Paralympian, said.
Para kayaker Rohit Mathur said the most difficult part for a disabled canoer or kayaker is to get a proper boat required for training. “Even my coach had to modify the normal boat into a special one as there was none available here. I hope that Prachi’s feat makes it easy to get government’s support,” he added.
The co-chairperson of ParaCanoe Bhind Kayaking & Canoeing Association, Hitendra Singh Tomar, said para canoe/kayak requires superior upper body strength and good quality equipment. “And the latter is the major challenge. In India, few companies manufacture boats we need. Importing a boat is expensive as each boat costs almost Rs 4 lakh. The boats are imported from Germany,” he added.
The boats regularly used are narrow. Disabled players find it hard to balance on them and that makes it hard for them to focus on their strokes. The boats used in the Olympics have a specific design. “In India, only one company, Cargo Enterprises, makes boats for para kayaking. These cost Rs 80,000, which are much cheaper than the imported boats but lack finish and don’t give players an edge”, he said.
“We have three imported boats in India. If the games become popular, Indian companies may show some interest in manufacturing them. And Prachi’s achievement at Paralympics is a good sign,” Tomar added.
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