‘Education is the key to success in all fields. Even if I could think to opt for sports that too because of my vision widened because of education. No pain, injury, ailment and situation should come between you and your education or goal.’
Dr. Pragya Kaushik
Para sports Hero, Ekta Bhyan clinched Gold medal for the country in “Club Throw” in Para sports Asian games 2018. Dr. Pragya Kaushik, Communication Skills Expert and Blogger spoke to Ekta on how she is dealing with COVID situation and what plans she is working to continue her practice.
Dr.Pragya: What is your take on Covid-19 and its impact on your life and your suggestion to people?
Para Athlete: Covid has impacted everyone around the globe. Yes, it is challenging time for all but we need to have faith that, this too shall pass. If, we are in situation to help unprivileged, we should offer a helping hand, that may not be in monetary terms only but in any kind, like providing services, edibles, any other essential objects etc.
Along with this, we need to stay physically and mentally healthy. Anything unusual should be addressed immediately, without delay, especially the mental state matters. Every step of ours should be according to guidelines issued by government. It was very important to keep good mental and physical health in these times. For mental health, we must practice pranayam and pursue our hobbies. Though, I haven’t learnt anything new, but got back to my old hobbies of drawing and writing.
Dr. Pragya: Are you working with any organization presently?
Para Athlete: Yes,I am an Assistant Employment Officer at Hisar. I did Masters degree in English and also worked as an Auditor also.I am motivational speaker too.
Dr. Pragya: Today when COVID has affected everyone’s life, how are you managing with its stress even with office work?
Para Athlete: Yes, like others I am also the one who is battling hard to strike the balance between health,work and exercise. My my lungs are partially already weak due to my spinal cord injury so I am more susceptible to exposure of any lungs problem. I had to represent India in Tokyo Paralympics ,still I am keeping my spirits high with my balanced approach towards life with exercise, balanced diet and moreover with following all guidelines of un-lockdown, since lock down period I am at home and working from home.
Dr. Pragya: Recently PM Modi praised you?
Para Athlete: This proud moment came with a huge surprise, when Prime Minister sir shared my story in #MannKiBaat. My chachaji telephoned me to inform about it. I am so proud to have been chosen in Prime Minister special radio talk on Sunday.
Dr. Pragya: Do you think being a para-player is a more difficult than an abled player, how it all happened with you?
Para Athlete: Yes, It is challenging to be a para sports person as disability has its own limitations and dependency. Due to Reduced mobility, we also need 2 persons to assist us while practicing . It was in 2003, I met with accident which resulted in spinal cord injury at cervical level. Since then, I am on wheelchair. After completing education and securing job through exam of Haryana civil services, my interview was circulated on social media which reached to my coach Amit Saroha. He contacted me and asked if I would like to join para sports. I too wanted to explore something new, thought of giving it a try. I won my first international medal in 2016.
Dr. Pragya: From there your another life journey started towards trailblazer traverse, so who were the guiding support behind you? Who is your source of inspiration ?
Para Athlete: Chairman of the Hospital committee Major H.P. Ahlluwalia who himself is wheel chaired , had spinal injury in 1970 war, counselled me to face the problem and live the life with more zeal and courage.We never know how much motivation and positive words do wonders in our lives. His words did wonders. All the doctors there and wheel chaired patients, staff and councillors had instilled enough courage, fortitude and willpower in me to face the world and my coach, teachers and parents then I bounced back with same zest and zeal.
Dr. Pragya: We heard there are always some inspiring words from your family and friends which constantly boosted you ,what were they?
Para Athlete: Life changing assertions from my parents, doctors and friends helped me to come out of this bedridden state. Against all odds my proud parents, Doctors, Coach, Teacher and friends stood by me and kept my spirit alive.
Dr. Pragya: You are well educated, you are Assistant Employment Officer, How important education is in one’s life?
Para Athlete: Education is the key to success in all fields. Even if I could think to opt for sports that too because of my vision widened because of education. I did M.A. in English subject and in Graduation I topped in Psychology subject. No pain, injury, ailment and situation should come between you and your education or goal. It opens doors for all endeavours.
I did my MA in English, topped in my college in Psychology subject in graduation.
I write poems and do drawing also. I say ,”Keep your passion alive, it works as stress buster.
Dr. Pragya: Please describe your achievements for those who don’t know about you and how you decided to go for games?
Para Athlete: For a change in my life I started learning club throw game in 2015, my coach who himself is wheel chaired inspired me and from there started unstoppable journey of receiving love and honours. These are the awards; Gold medalist in Club throw at Asian Para Games, Jakarta, 2018,
secured Tokyo Paralympic quota at World championship, Dubai, 2019, National Champion in Club throw and Discus throw since three years, International medals and 8 National medals, National Award by Vice-President of India, Felicitations by Prime Minister, Sports Minister of Chief Minister of Haryana, Minister of Employment, Sportswoman of the year by ESPN and Sports star Aces Award-“Sportswoman of the year “2020 .
Dr. Pragya: If you were a sports authority, what would you have changed about Indian sports and system?
Para Athlete: These honours and achievements added to my horizon of wisdom and better understanding of the society and world. My suggestions, notions and views for better society to make better place also for disabled people are; not become rule breakers. Abide by the rules, be it be traffic rules, schools ,offices rules, Follow them. Make public places disabled accessible. They also want to enjoy cinema, restaurant, shopping and parties but because they can not reach there so conveniently and infrastructural limitations become obstacles in letting them enjoy life like others. People must become disabled friendly. They are not aliens ,they are normal people with unique strength. There must be Spinal Injury Hospital. Better place for disabled persons too. Firstly, assistive devices should be provided to them at reasonable prices which all can afford. This will improve their quality of life. Secondly, Educating every disabled person will be a great step in empowering them. To achieve this, we need to eliminate any kind of mental barrier to provide them equal opportunity. This will result in equal opportunities in employment also. Thirdly, more sports facilities and policies for disabled children at an early age . Fourthly, an accessible infrastructure and transportation,to independently move around, pursuing sports, for recreation and chasing goals. Do not stop your life after the tragedy, life must go on. In fact help others.
Dr. Pragya: What message do you wish to share for all the readers and players ?
Para Athlete: Message for players. It is testing time for all and every player around the world sailing in the same boat. Yes, the intensity of preparation took a setback but still, we need to remain focused and calm. We need to deal with this with positive mindset. Prioritising safety and doing all things whatever can be done for the sport should be done. Taking postponement as bonus , one more year for preparation , can give us a new positive outlook in this time in continuing our preparation. These moments of love ,share, care, hard work made her a winner of her own battle too and made her to focus on her next target that is to win gold medal for the country in Olympics too.
About Writer: Dr. Pragya Kaushik is doctorate in Mass communication. Presently she is a Communication Skills Expert, Columnist and Blogger.