Indian Para-Rowing Duo Makes History, Qualifies for Paris Paralympics

Inspiring story of India's first para-rowing team to qualify for Paris Paralympics. Anita and Narayana's journey from overcoming challenges to making history, showcasing India's growing prowess in para-sports.

Salman Khan
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Indian Para-Rowing Duo Makes History, Qualifies for Paris Paralympics

Indian Para-Rowing Duo Makes History, Qualifies for Paris Paralympics

In a historic achievement for Indian para-sports, the mixed doubles pair of Anita, a road accident amputee from Rajasthan, and Havaldar Narayana, a mine blast survivor from Telangana, became the first Indian para-rowing team to qualify for the Paris Paralympics. The duo secured their spot by winning a silver medal in the PR3 Mixed Doubles Sculls event at the 4th Asian Para Games held in Chungju, South Korea.

Anita and Narayana's path to success began at the Army Rowing Node (ARN) in Pune, where they were brought together by Col Ramakrishnan and his team. Despite the challenges of accommodating a female rower and convincing Anita's family, the ARN worked tirelessly to train the pair. Anita's impressive fitness levels and mental resilience caught the attention of Subedar Mohammed Azad, who discovered her at a local gym in Rajasthan.

Narayana, a frontline soldier and mine blast survivor, had been slowly reviving his spirits through para-rowing before being paired with Anita. Within just 10 months of starting the sport, the duo's hard work and dedication paid off as they clinched the top spot in the Para Mix Double Sculls event (PR3 Mix2x) at the 2024 World Rowing Asian and Oceanian Olympic and Paralympic Qualification Regatta, also held in South Korea.

Why this matters: Anita and Narayana's achievement marks a significant milestone for Indian para-sports, showcasing the nation's growing prowess in the international arena. Their success story serves as an inspiration for aspiring para-athletes and highlights the importance of providing equal opportunities and support to individuals with disabilities.

The ARN's decision to train Anita, the first woman rower at the node, signifies a progressive shift in the sport's landscape. The success of Anita and Narayana has paved the way for the ARN to start training more women in rowing, with Pallavi Chaubey, another road accident victim, being prepared as the next potential partner for Narayana. As Col Ramakrishnan stated, "The aim is to have our own women rowers. Maybe one day, we will hear the Indian national anthem at the Olympics."

Key Takeaways

  • First Indian para-rowing team to qualify for Paris Paralympics
  • Anita and Narayana, a mixed doubles pair, won silver at Asian Para Games
  • Trained at Army Rowing Node in Pune, overcoming challenges to include a female rower
  • Secured top spot in Para Mix Double Sculls event at World Rowing Asian Qualification Regatta
  • Milestone for Indian para-sports, inspiring aspiring para-athletes and promoting equal opportunities