Kajal Pandey: A fighter on and off the field
I was in the fourth standard when my mom asked me about what I aspire to become. Not having a reasonable answer, I replied that I wanted to do something unique. Dance and singing weren’t my niches but sports was something that excited me, and that marked my journey with martial arts. I initially started out with karate and then moved to Taekwondo.
Having eyesight of -8.5 made it extremely arduous to fight my opponent. An extra drawback is the last thing a new beginner would anticipate for. It took me 5 years of rigorous training to turn my weakness into strength. I started playing more on the attacking end than defending and that’s what made my game unique and my bane turned out to be a boon.
Bad eyesight wasn’t the only difficulty in my journey. While training to give my best in every single tournament, the number of battles I fought off the ring wasn’t any less. My capabilities as a player were often questioned, just because I was a girl. On my way to class one day, a guy passed a comment saying ‘ Yeh kya karegi ‘, as much I chose to respect my oath of not misusing my skill, my only response to that guy’s remark was ‘ Kuch saalon mai pata chal jaayega ki Mai kya Kar lungi ‘.
My parents were also a little reluctant at first. Their only condition was ‘ you get to play as long as your grades aren’t affected ‘. My dedication over the years has flipped their opinions. 3 years ago, my boards and tournaments were lined up during the same time period. I wasn’t able to give my best and continuously lost a couple of matches. There even came a phase when I wanted to give up, but it was Papa who coaxed me, saying ‘ No matter what, don’t stop.’ It was his words that made me realize how far I had come.
And finally, it was during the lockdown when I decided to break a world record. My mom was shocked at first but eventually gave in as I went on to break the record for the most elbow strikes in one minute that same year. It wasn’t 1 year that went behind but indeed every bit of my journey helped me attain 11 world records. As much as I love being a record holder, I hold utmost pride in creating more players who can break these records. From the records I hold to the hardships I have endured, I owe it all to my game – Taekwondo ! “