Akriti Jamwal. Updated: 11/13/2019 12:05:42 PM We the Women


‘We The Women’ brings for you the journey of Kritika Khanna. A Banker by profession Kritika is working as Assistant Manager in J&K Grameen Bank; a seemingly ordinary woman in her early thirties. But is she as ordinary as she seems? Read on to find out.

Kritika is a Para-Athlete- India’s first female Para-Rower; an exuberant individual who believes that she is the source of her own happiness and strives to fill her world with colors and happy moments. “I live to celebrate the small achievement. Being a Para-Athlete is my most unbelievable feat,” is how she puts it.

Kritika won a bronze medal lately, in a team-event at Asian Para-Rowing Championship 2019 which held in Cheongju, South Korea. A gender- balanced team with Kritika Khanna, Jyoti Radheshyam Gaderiya, Kuldeep Singh on the oars and Rohith Maradappa at the rudder.

Kritika lost her leg in a road-accident back in 2003. On the morning of her second board examination of 12th class, the eighteen year old skid off her scooty and a truck ran over her leg.

Later that August Kritika appeared in bi-annual examination- her first feat and she hasn’t looked backed ever after. She expresses, “It was like being born again. I had to learn walking again; going out and doing routine chores was not as before. Trickiest of all was going to college.”

After finishing school from St. Mary’s Presentation Convent Sr. Sec School, Kritika went for further studies in Animation and after Bachelors she also achieved an MBA degree. She says, “I have been in lots for jobs in Jammu and Delhi before I became a banker back in 2011.”
Talking about how she got introduced to Rowing, Kritika states, “My mentor Col Gaurav Dutta is the one who gave me this dream. I had been a fitness freak for some time then and was posting my journey online to motivate others; that’s what caught his eye. I was given a dream of Rowing for my country as the first Female Para Rower.”

Being an amputee for 15 yrs, this came as a challenge, yet a new chance to explore her ability after being categorized as a ‘disable’ according to Kritika.

She took up the challenge and started preparing for it. She shares, “I took up gyming to keep myself fit for Rowing. Equally important is to feed the body right; a well balanced meal and self discipline helps a long way.”

In 2018, she was called for Asian Para Rowing Camp held at Army Rowing Node, Pune where she underwent rowing training for three months. Unfortunately the event was cancelled and she had to return home with a broken heart.

Yet circumstances for Kritika changed drastically after taking up rowing. She admits, “It helped me realize my real potential and abilities. I have grown personally after my accident; it’s been a roller coaster ride fighting to make my stand once again in the society.”

She explains, “Our society doesn’t regard specially-abled people as equals; we are always looked down upon. But getting back on ones feet allows one to prove that it’s all in the mind- that one is disabled by mind not by body.”

And she proved it.

Later in May 2019 she was once again called for a training camp of two months where she practiced her best with the team and returned home already anticipating next camp to prepare for Asian Para Rowing Championship 2019.

Kritika share, “We got the good news. But we were not given an adequate days of training camp, despite which the training of our coaches helped us finish at the podium and make our Nation proud.”

Kritika was a non- swimmer and after she took up Rowing, she had a traumatizing episode last year, when the shell capsized during last days of the camp. Thereafter she developed hydrophobia. According to Kritika her biggest achievement was overcoming the fear and swimming out of it.

“I took up swimming despite the phobia back in June this year to overcome the mental block. I won’t boast that I can swim but I can definitely not drown,” she explains.

Sharing about a major hurdle Kirtika says, “My fear of the water after the capsizing episode was one big challenge for me. People around did not understand the mental pressure it caused; how depressing it can be.”

She continues, “Hats-off to my mentor Col. Gaurav Dutta who helped me regain my confidence and always said I am mentally far stronger than I know. I am super happy that I was able to keep his confidence alive.”

Kritika reminisces that as a kid every time she’d see the National Flag unfurl, it would give her goosebumps and tears of joy. She expresses, “I still remember the National Flag unfurl and the National Anthem played at Olympics 2008 when Mr. Abhinav Bindra won a Gold Medal. That feeling is inexplicable and cannot be put down in words.”

She further adds, “Somehow felt the same when the National Flag was unfurled when we stood at the podium, tears of joy ran down to see us become the reason of our National Flag being hoisted at an International Land. Also, since it was on Diwali, it felt like we received a Diwali Bonanza, while paying the same as a tribute to the nation.”

According to Kritika owing to all the experiences in her life, she asserts that one should not wait for anything major but rejoice even the smallest accomplishments; celebrating yourself is ones biggest achievement. She elaborates, “I celebrate my smaller achievements every day; whenever I do something challenging for me I consider it as my achievement. These small achievements lead to one such bigger ones; for me which was, being able to win a Bronze for my country and hold the Flag high.”

Kritika’s ideology is to always smile the way through any challenge one comes across. “It will be difficult in the beginning but trust me it always works. My biggest motivation is having a strong faith in my abilities and my almighty. Some extra boost has always been my family,” expresses Kritika.

She strongly believes that she is much stronger than ever before. Now she wants to instill same belief on oneself in everyone around as nothing is impossible if you have a strong belief in yourself.

To unwind at the end of the day, Kritika loves to sit back with her family and just watch some TV with them and chit chat; spend time with her loved ones. She also loves painting and dancing.

Now Kritika aspires to help spread awareness and boast morals all around; especially of specially-abled ones. She expresses, “I want to help them to stand for themselves and enjoy the beauty of this world. They need to be reminded that they are no less than others and nobody has the right to let them feel any lesser. They must stand taller and shine brighter.”

Kritika’s words to women out there- “Ladies you are the creator of your destiny; strong pillar of your own life. Age is just a number; you are never too old to pursue your passion. Just own yourself and rise high.”

Speaking about women of J&K and their physical fitness Kritika says, “Things are going in a great direction when I see the women of J&K reaching new heights- from Beauty pageants to fitness enthusiasts. I see our ladies touching new heights, realizing their own strength and standing up for their own rights.”

“An empowered woman is the one who owns herself. Nobody can empower a woman but themselves. We just need to believe in our abilities and start celebrating ourselves,” she adds.

Kritika concludes, “Feed the soul with positive light and see the world follow.”

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