On Sunday, Tulika won the women’s singles quarterfinal in the SL3 category, beating Poornima Pandey of Uttar Pradesh 21-6, 21-4 in straight sets in the Khelo India Para Games at the iconic IG Stadium here.
Tulika, a 15-year-old from Buldana, Maharashtra, was born with cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder affecting movement, muscle tone and posture. However, her ailment doesn’t seem to come in the way of the chirpy teenager dreaming of representing India one day.
“I started playing badminton just for fun in 2018 but when I watched the Tokyo Paralympics, I was in so much awe. Especially watching Phalak Joshi and Pramod Bhagat was inspiring for me and I too want to become like them one day,” said Tulika.
But her condition is such that, she is posed with challenges every day.
“I play in the SL3 category, and it does get difficult because I can’t do much with the right side of my body. Since all my weight falls on one leg, I am often prone to injury too. And due to cerebral palsy, I also have a visual impairment, so I play with spectacles which makes it harder to gauge the shuttle,” she explains.
However, playing badminton has given Tulika a new identity. She says, “When I was a kid, people would look at my hand and leg wondering what was wrong with me and that always made me feel different from others. But having taken up badminton, I feel like I can make a new identity for myself. Many of my friends and family are already very excited for me.”
Tulika’s determination to represent India has made her move cities to pursue her training. She now lives in Lucknow where she trains under Gaurav Khanna and feels that the ecosystem there induces confidence.
“There are many players with different challenges who train with us and I don’t feel different when I am with them. In fact I feel all the more encouraged to develop as a player,” said Tulika.
She believes taking part in the first-ever Khelo India Para Games, is like taking one step forward towards her goal.
“I am just so excited to be here for the Khelo India Para Games and wear this jersey. It’s really a great platform for young people like me to embrace whatever challenges they may have and move forward. I am lucky to have parents who are very supportive and help me every step of the way. I am looking forward to the matches and enjoy every moment of being here,” she concluded.
–Ajit Weekly News
News Credits – I A N S