Praveen Kumar, the high-jumper from India had one only ambition in life -- to win an Olympic medal. And his dream came true at Tokyo Paralympics 2020, where the 18-year-old won a silver medal in men's high jump T64.
Also read: Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games full medal table
Kumar, whose impairment affects the bones that connect his hip to his left leg, belongs to a farmer family of Uttar Pradesh's Jewar. In school he used to play volleyball and while doing so he realized that he could easily jump high. "I used to play volleyball in school and my jump was good. Once I participated in the high jump competition in school and did well. I started training after that," Kumar told TOI.
He trained very hard for the Olympics but his training was hampered by the lockdown imposed following the COVID-19 pandemic. Before taking off for Tokyo Paralympics, Kumar had said that he aims to make a jump of at least 2.05 metres.
Praveen bagged a silver medal in the Junior World Championship and stood fourth in the senior world championship in 2019. He has also won a gold in World Grand Prix and is Asia record holder with 2.05 metres jump.
This personal best put him in the top three amongst the competitors at Tokyo and a strong contender for a medal.
Kumar, making his Paralympics debut, set a new Asian record with a 2.07m jump to win a silver. Great Britain's Jonathan Broom-Edwards won the gold medal with a 2.10m jump. The bronze medal was clinched by Poland's Maciej Lepiota who recorded a jump of 2.04.
T64 classificationis for athletes with a leg amputation, who compete with prosthetics in a standing position.T44, the disability classification that Kumar has but is eligible to compete in T64, is for athletes with a leg deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power, or impaired passive range of movement in the legs.