Aruna Tanwar is a Chandigarh University student and is now India’s first Taekwondo entry into Paralympics. Raised in a Haryanvi village named Dinod, Tanwar had a keenness in athletics and martial arts. She chose to learn martial arts despite having three fingers in each hand and arms not fully formed.
She is already a two-time World Champion. She has won a Silver medal in the 2018 Asian Para-Taekwondo Championship in Vietnam and Bronze at the World Championship in Antalya, Turkey. Presently, this 21-year-old is world No. 4 in the women’s U-49 category, a five-time National Champion with podium finishes in the last four years at Asian and World Para-Taekwondo Championships.
Chandigarh University student Aruna Tanwar will now be representing India at the Tokyo Paralympics to be held from August 24 to September 5.
But her journey had many hurdles. Tanwar had become the first Indian Para-Taekwondo player to be selected for the Qualification Round in Amaan, Jordan. However, due to the travel ban because of Covid-19, she could not attend the qualification rounds in Jordan.
Talking to Hindustan Times about her disappointment, Tanwar expressed, “I was so upset and disheartened to lose out on a chance. My dream of wearing the India jersey during Paralympics 2021 came crumbling down. I was urging celebrities like (actor) Sonu Sood through friends on social media to bring the issue to the forefront.”
While missing the Qualification Rounds in Jordan disheartened Aruna, it almost ruled out India’s first-ever participation in Para-Taekwondo at Paralympics. However, the World Taekwondo and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) extended the Bipartile Commission Invitation for Tokyo Paralympics.
Tanwar is among eight athletes who received the Bipartile Commission Invitation for Tokyo. Such invitation is extended by the IPC in consultation with the sport’s world body for athletes who, among other reasons, have missed the chance to qualify due to extraordinary circumstances. Thus, it secured both Aruna and India’s place among 72 athletes from 37 countries participating in Para-Taekwondo, which will make its debut at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Aruna Tanwar’s love for athletics came when she saw the grand welcome laid down for Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Boxer Paramjeet Samota from her village. She then started to dream to be one of them. Aruna’s father is Naresh Kumar, who is a factory driver and part-time farmer.
With unwavering support from her parents, Aruna ensured that no physical deformity would hold her back. Despite being not financially well-placed, Aruna’s parents’ assistance further encouraged her to do better. She competed in the General category and secured medals in the 38 kg class before shifting to Paralympics because her weight category being unavailable in international events.