By : Profectus Magazine / 15 Oct 2021 / Pride of the nation /
Born and brought up in Rourkela, Odisha, Kajal wasn’t ever interested in common activities like dancing or singing. She always wanted to do something different, seeing this Kajal’s mother one day took her to the marital arts classes. She faced a bit criticism from her grandmother as Kajal was the only child in the family, indulging into the sports may lead to injuries. But as like a forbidden fruit, we tend to do things we are told not to.
Today we read and feel proud about Kajal’s journey but the road up hill wasn’t easy for her. If it wasn’t for her courage and strength, you might not had a chance to read this blog. Kajal faces a eyesight problem since her childhood, and there’s still a chance that she might go blind. Studying in her kindergarten, Kajal got a -1.5 power specs which kept on increasing and is now luckily stuck on -13.5. In her initial learning phase, the weak eyesight became her worst nightmare. Her karate coach would used to snatch away her specs and she had to practice without it. While playing her first nationals, she lost by zero points as she literally couldn’t see anything. Doctor said if they perform a laser operation there will be severe consequences, either she’ll lose her eyesight or she’ll face mental issues. So her dad opted out from the operation and decided to go with the specs. Kajal also tried out lenses but it was quite painful.
To win over a something, baby steps towards it are quite important. Acceptance is one crucially important phase, which Kajal understood quite early. Her weak eyesight wasn’t going to go anywhere so she decided to live with it. During her practice sessions, initially she would practice for half n hour without the specs. It didn’t matter if she lost, important was to overcome the weakness. During the process, she lost many matches including nationals and district level competition, but it was worth it as she learnt from her losses. She then came with the technique that if you can’t see the person, see the colors. By colors she meant the color of the opponents chest guard and head guard, as these two are the main striking points in taekwondo. Kajal further tells us that sometimes it feels like a boon about not being able to see people’s faces, as she can focus on the only important thing, her game!
We often see that athletes ignore studies while focusing on their passion, but Kajal is best in the worlds. Kajal used to study Law in Chattisgarh and practice her games in Odisha, it was quite hectic as she had to juggle between two states. She used to stay 15 days in either state but couldn’t focus much on both. So she decided to finish studies prior and then given full focus on the game. Her professors and entire law team supported her alot through that phase. Kajal says that she never choose between passion or studies. Both are equally important to her.When She was in class 10, her parents also told to choose one, as one week prior to her boards Kajal had to play nationals in Kolkata, but she nailed both.
Defeats are always remembered, as they push us to perform better next time. Such was the first match of Kajal’s life, which she played in West Bengal. It was a karate, she remembers it very well as the opponent kicked Kajal out of arena with just one stroke. It pushed her so much that She started training for 13 hours straight and that has resulted in 12 world records by her name.
Also known as Queen of elbow strikes, Kajal is a black belt in taekwondo. She holds Guinness world record for one lakh kicks in one hour (team), along with that she made 7 world records in a day for most number of elbow strikes in 1 minute. The records were:
She also holds International book of world record for most people done squads in one minute and is founder of superwomen squads.
When asked about what motivates her to do so much, Kajal simply answered hurdles of her life. Every person has their own life struggles, so one should really get motivated from themselves. Like how you overcame your life hurdles. For Kajal her eyesight issue was her motivation. Secret to her success is that she never gave up, she soaked into her failures and rose up from that. She also mentions that giving an example to the society that “girls can be into sports too”. Like the societal mentality that being a girl she can’t do anything, had to change.
Kajal thinks that women are already empowered, they just need the boost to rise. Family support is most essential in this. Kajal says that when the society is against you but you have family support, you can achieve anything you want. Everyone reads about the glorious Indian history and think that they’ll become Rani Laxmibai, but the one who acts on it can really do it as “actions speaks louder than words”.
Apart from sports Kajal is also indulged in upliftment of society. While studying in Raipur, she came across a national NGO named Fly High India but it didn’t have a branch in the city. She contacted them and started some social work in Raipur. Fly High India works on the social skills of underprivileged children. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and Kajal had to move back to her hometown, she thought to do the same there. So she contacted Swasarajan Foundation, which is recognized by United Nations. They opened a branch in Rourkela, where they started working for upliftment of women and children. During Navaratri, they had a NariShakti campaign, where she taught self defense exercises to 9 girls.
After Kajal made 7 world records in a day, a little girl messaged her that ‘Thank you so much for being an inspiration for me and I’m really looking forward to change my life as well.’ Whenever Kajal reads that message, it gives her goosebumps. She personally asked her that how did she inspire her, the girl opened up to Kajal that she had the same issue of eyesight and about the society cat calls. But when she read about Kajal’s struggles, that really inspired her. This was one of the proudest moment of Kajal’s life.
Kajal envisions to make 11 world records this years and In the future She will attempt for UPSC. During her world record journey it was really hard to find a sponsorship as most of places were shut down due to the corona-virus. But foundations like Lions club of Rourkela and Maheshwari foundation came into support of her and the record was made possible. Odisha is the best state for Sports , but government should encourage other games as well apart from cricket and hockey. Talking particularly about martial arts world, Kajal says that there’s a unity in it today. Earlier it used to be divided between karate, taekwondo but when different social media pages and institutions came together they bridged the gap. Kajal also started making IGTV videos on the sports culture.
A person never knows what the future holds for us, even if Kajal loses her eyesight, she is strong and confident enough to be the person she is today. There’s scope everywhere, you just need enough skills and willpower. There will be problems, but if you want the Future of your Dream then keep polishing yourself and keep hustling and remember giving up is never a option!
There will be problems, but if you want the Future of your Dream then keep polishing yourself and keep hustling.
Always remember that giving up should never be an option! – Kajal Pandey
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