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Cerebral Palsy Not A Challenge For Maharashtra Teen Tulika Jadhao

The Khelo India Para Games, which kicked off today with badminton matches held at the iconic IG Stadium, witnessed one of the youngest participants who has made the badminton court her happy place. Meet Tulika Jadhao, the 15-year-old from Buldana, Maharashtra – a chirpy teen just like anyone her age, chatting away constantly with fellow compatriots and eager to get on with her matches. That she was born with cerebral palsy, a congenital disorder affecting the movement, muscle tone and posture, doesn’t seem to come in the way of her dream to represent India one day.

“I started playing badminton just for fun in 2018 but when I watched the Tokyo Paralympics, I was in so much awe. Especially watching Phalak Joshi and Pramod Bhagat was inspiring for me and I too want to become like them one day,” expresses Tulika who won the quarterfinal of women’s singles in the SL3 category. She  beat Poornima Pandey of Uttar Pradesh 21-6, 21-4 in straight sets.

But her condition is such that, she is posed with challenges every day. “I play in the SL3 category and it does get difficult because I can’t do much with the right side of my body. Since all my weight is falling on one leg, I am often prone to injury too. And due to cerebral palsy, I also have a visual impairment so I play with spectacles which makes it harder to gauge the shuttle,” she explains.

However, playing badminton, has given Tulika a new identity. She says, “When I was younger, people would look at my hand and leg wondering what was wrong with me and that always made me feel different from others. But having taken up badminton, I feel like I can make a new identity for myself. Many of my friends and family are already very excited for me.”

Tulika’s determination to represent India has made her move cities, to pursue her training. She now lives in Lucknow where she trains under Gaurav Khanna and feels that the eco system there induces confidence. “There are many players with different challenges who train with us and I don’t feel different when I am with them. In fact I feel all the more encourage to develop as a player,” expressed Tulika.

She believes taking part in the first-ever Khelo India Para Games, is like taking one step forward towards her goal. “I am just so excited to be here for the Khelo India Para Games and wear this jersey. It’s really a great platform for young people like me to embrace whatever challenge they may have and move forward. I am lucky to have parents who are very supportive and help me every step of the way. I am looking forward to the matches and enjoy every moment of being here,” she concluded.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a press release)

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