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Haryana's Aruna Tanwar will be representing India in the upcoming Tokyo Summer Paralympic Games, commencing on August 24, and will continue till September 5, 2021.
A daughter of a driver and a student of Chandigarh University, Tanwar is the first Indian Taekwondo athlete to qualify for the Paralympic Games. She ranks fourth in the world in the women's under 49 Taekwondo category and is one of the 72 Taekwondo players from 37 nations competing in the Paralympics.
A resident of the Bhiwani district, Tanwar is an undergraduate student of Physical Education at the university.
The 21-year-old has won bronze twice for the country in 2019, both at the Asian Para-Taekwondo Championship & World Para-Taekwondo Championship.
To support the Para-Olympians, the Chandigarh University has announced the R Tikaram Sports Scholarship worth ₹1 crore. In addition, it will reserve 25 seats under the sports category for the Para-Athletes eligible for the academic scholarship up to 100%, including free hostel accommodation, special diet & training allowances, reported The Print.
She was awarded the scholarship by Dr. R.S Bawa, Pro-Chancellor, in the presence of her father Naresh Tanwar, and coach Ashok Kumar.
Speaking to the media, Tanwar informed she started learning the sport at the age of eight. She was fascinated with martial arts, considering it a tool for women empowerment, and urges every Indian girl to learn it for self-protection.
For the next eight years, she competed in the general category. However, in 2017, she didn't qualify for the International level due to deformity in her hands and later shifted to the Paralympics category.
"I was frustrated that I missed my competition in April, in the World and Asian qualifier in Jordan due to a travel ban because of the coronavirus pandemic. The world Taekwondo and International Paralympic committee gave me a wild card entry to the upcoming Tokyo games after taking my previous performances into account, and it is a miracle for me," the media quoted the player as saying.
Her father Naresh Tanwar narrated how difficult it was for him to support his daughter initially due to financial constraints. But seeing her dedication and hard work, he spent his savings and took a loan to provide her necessary training.
Pro-Chancellor Bawa lauded Tanwar on becoming the first Indian Taekwondo athlete representing the country and said that the university was proud to support her.
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