Delhi’s 27-year-old international para-athlete Atul Kaushik is excited after ending his 2023 season on a positive note. He was victorious in the men’s F57 shot put event at the inaugural edition of the Khelo India Para Games, which was held from December 10 to 17.
Since discus throw was scrapped from men’s F57 category, Kaushik switched to shot put with an aim to qualify for the 2024 Paralympic Games.
“The results have been satisfactory in the last year,” Kaushik said. “But I need to work extra hard to stay in the race for 2024 Paralympic Games qualification.”
The qualification mark in his category is 11 metres, while Kaushik on his way to winning the gold medal at the Khelo India Para Games recorded 11.76m. However, to stay in the race to earn a berth for the Paralympic Games, he has to improve his national ranking.
“There are two throwers better than me at the domestic level,” Kaushik added. “I need to record plus 13m in the next four-five months to be successful in winning a ticket to the Paralympic Games.”
Son of a small-time farmer in the outskirts of South West Delhi, Kaushik took to para sports five years ago. “Sports transformed my outlook towards life,” said Kaushik, whose left leg was impacted by polio since birth.
With the support of his coach — Satyapal Singh — he got further opportunities to showcase his talent. He twice competed at the Grand Prix event in Dubai. “It was a good chance to learn and move forward,” he said of his international experience.
However, his chances of competing at the Hangzhou Para Asian Games were spoiled as the International Paralympic Committee excluded discus throw in F57 category from the programme. But he has set his sights on next year’s Paris Paralympic Games.
“It will be a challenging situation as there are better athletes than me at the domestic level. But I’m determined to work hard to achieve my goal,” he added.