Aruna Tanwar - A story of Courage & Determination

CU student to be India’s first entry in Para-Taekwondo at Tokyo Paralympics 

Sometimes just talent isn’t enough to help you reach heights, you also need to have a strong will, courage, and determination. Not letting her physical deformity hold her back, Aruna Tanwar has made herself a name in the world of Para-Taekwondo. A two-time World Champion, Aruna Tanwar is going to be India’s first Taekwondo entry into Paralympics. Daughter of a factory driver and part-time farmer Naresh Kumar, Aruna Tanwar has exemplified will, determination and hard work with her performances in the field of Para-Taekwondo. 

A Chandigarh University student, Aruna has always been working hard to reach higher in sports. 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.

It all began in her childhood when she was mesmerized by a grand welcome laid down for Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Boxer Paramjeet Samota from her village. Bearing witness to this moment, Aruna had begun weaving her dreams and working hard for them. 

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.

Hereafter, Tanwar went onto winning medals in a string of international events, including a Silver medal in the 2018 Asian Para-Taekwondo Championship in Vietnam and Bronze at the World Championship in Antalya, Turkey. Presently, the 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.

After mesmerizing everyone with her magnificent performances over the past few years, Ms Tanwar had become the first Indian Para-Taekwondo player to be selected for the Qualification Round in Amaan, Jordan. She was overjoyed upon hearing the news of her selection, however, her happiness was almost short-lived as a Travel Ban because COVID-19 made the Indian players miss 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, her despair soon turned to delight as World Taekwondo, and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) extended the Bipartile Commission Invitation for Tokyo Paralympics. 

Tanwar was 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. 

Chandigarh University student Aruna Tanwar will now be representing India at the Tokyo Paralympics to be held from August 24 to September 5.