Jammu: Kritika Khanna, 33, saw her life turn upside down after she had to undergo an amputation, following a life-threatening accident in 2003, which left her bedridden for months.
The accident though, could not douse her passion and she bounced back even stronger.
“The was life turning incident because that time I started releasing how strong I am and how capable I am,” She said adding that starting life again was biggest challenge and to learn walk again.
Another challenge was for me to exercise in gym as the gym owner reused to entrain because of my leg. Then later I join gym where I realized actual strength.
“One of my friend uploaded video on YouTube which drew the attenetion of drew Lieutenant Colonel Gaurav Dutta, India’s only para-triathlete to Khanna, who is now training under him to become India’s first professional para-rower.
She was hesitant at first because it was a completely new experience and something she had not tried before, but Dutta managed to convince her to leave Jammu and come to Pune.
“When Lt Col Dutta contacted me to come to Pune, my parents were a bit hesitant as it was extremely far from home. Also it was a new city and I was worried how I’ll be able to manage all by myself, considering my disabilities. It was after a very assuring conversation with him that my parents were convinced about the move. This also gave me the confidence to come to Pune,” said Khanna when asked about her choice to come to Pune for training.
“I’m also working in a bank, so it was difficult to get such an extended period of leave, but thankfully they were cooperative and gave me the time to take up this new challenge,” she added
Taking up a new sport, particularly at the age of 33 is not an easy task, but it is Khanna’s strength and determination that has allowed her to take up para-rowing professionally and make tremendous progress.
Bouncing back from her injury was a clear indicator of her willpower, but her inextinguishable focus is what has brought her where she is.
Speaking about what inspired her and the challenges she faced as a woman, Khanna said, “We have a number of female fitness groups where people look up to me for inspiration. This inspired me to take up rowing and push myself further. Being a woman has not posed any obstacles.
“Sometimes, I feel that at certain events, women are better than men, and they are given their due importance, often even more than their male counterparts. In Pune, I haven’t felt any disparities as Lt Col Dutta and the other athletes have been extremely kind and supportive and have always been ready to help with training.”
A determined Khanna now has a few months’ rowing experience under her belt and is already looking forward to the future, setting targets for herself.
She hopes to be ready not only to qualify for the Asian and World Rowing Championships in 2019 but also to go the extra mile and win a medal for her country and for everyone who believed in her.
Lt Col Dutta however, believes that progress will take time. “She is a beginner. She is the first female para-rower from India, but she has a while to go before she can compete with other top international teams. She has only been doing this for two months, progress will take time,” he said.