Pramod Bhagat, Avani Lekhara, Krishna Nagar, Sumit Antil and Manish Narwal – India have never seen five Paralympics gold medallists in a single edition before. For the record, India had sent a total of 19 athletes to Rio 2016! (More Sports News)
Coincidentally, five years later, India ended their Tokyo Paralympics campaign with a whopping 19 medals, including five gold. India’s previous best tally at the Paralympics was in 2016 and in 1984 Los Angeles Games – four medals in each of the editions. Out of 162 participating nations in Tokyo 2020, India finished 24th overall in the medals tally.
Sumit Antil's monster throw of 68.55m destroyed the 10-men field and recreated his own world record. Photo - AP.
If legendary Devendra Jhajharia missed out on a third Paralympics gold in men’s javelin, Sumit Antil rose to the occasion to become the new king in the F64 category. Antil broke his own world record thrice en route to the gold. Not to forget 19-year-old Jaipur shooter Avani Lekhara, who became the first Indian woman to win a Paralympics gold and emerge as a whiff of elfin energy in the Indian squad.
At a time when the Indian shooters are under immense criticism for drawing a blank (only one out of 15 shooters made the finals) at the Tokyo Olympics, their counterparts at the Paralympics brought some solace to the country with five medals in the discipline, including two each from Lekhara and Singhraj Adhana.
There were also a couple of firsts for India at the Tokyo Paralympics with Bhavina Patel (silver) bringing home the country’s maiden table tennis medal while Harvinder Singh broke the archery jinx with a bronze. Bhavina even dispatched World No.5 Borislava Rankovic Peric of Serbia en route to her silver.
Bhavinaben Patel became the first Indian table tennis player to win a Paralympics medal. Photo - PCI
The highest grosser for India at the Tokyo Paralympics was the track and field that yielded an astonishing eight medals including three from javelin and four from high jump. The shuttlers were not to be left behind. In badminton’s maiden outing at the Tokyo Paralympics, India clinched four medals, including two gold to etch their name into history books.
SHUTTLING TO GLORY
World No.1 Pramod Bhagat started the onslaught with the country’s first badminton Paralympic gold before Krishna Nagar ended with the same to cap India’s memorable campaign. The country will also beam with pride for Suhas Yathiraj (silver), who became the first IAS officer with a Paralympic medal.
Krishna Nagar fulfilled his promise to bring smiles to his countrymen by winning a medal. Photo - AP/PTI
The medal count could have reached close to 30 had nine of our athletes not missed the podium by a whisker. While Swaroop Unhalkar (shooting), Sandeep Chaudhary, Navdeep and Soman Rana (athletics) and Tarun Dhillon (badminton) finished fourth in their respective events, the likes of Sakina Khatun (powerlifting), Ram Pal and Amit Saroha (athletics) and Rahul Jakhar (shooting) ended fifth.
Keeping aside the athletes’ hard work and determination during pandemic times, credit also goes to all the Paralympic Committee of India, the national sports federations, the government’s TOP scheme and the Sports Authority of India for making India a formidable force on the sports world map and paving the way for a towering show at Paris 2024.