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In the recently concluded Tokyo Olympics, India recorded their best-ever performance at the Olympics, bagging a total of seven medals. And now the whole country will be cheering up for the Indian para-athletes at the Paralympic Games. The Paralympic team of India had come up with their best-ever performance in the previous edition in Rio, Brazil. They won a total of four medals, including two Golds for javelin thrower Devendra Jhajaria and high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu.
Overall, India has won 12 medals at the Paralympic Games – four golds, four silver, and four bronze. India has sent its largest-ever contingent to the Paralympics. 54 para-athletes – 40 men and 14 women – will participate in 9 different sports events from India. India will begin its campaign at the Paralympics with the Archery event on August 27.
So, let us take a look at five Paralympians who are India’s best bets at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Devendra Jhajharia (F-46 Javelin)
India’s biggest medal prospect in the Tokyo Paralympics. Devendra has won two gold medals at the Paralympics – Athens 2004 and Rio 2016. He is the first Indian Paralympics player to win two gold medals at the Paralympics. He had set a world record in Rio with a throw of 63.97m and then broke that record in July 2021 with a throw of 65.71m to qualify for Tokyo.
Devendra Jhajharia has been awarded the Padma Shri in 2021, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in 2017, and Arjuna Award in 2005. Most likely, this will be his last Paralympics, so Jhajharia will look to finish it on a high note.
Mariyappan Thangavelu (High Jump)
India’s greatest Paralympian, Mariyappan won the gold medal in the men’s high jump T-42 category in Rio 2016. He was awarded the Arjuna Award and Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna by the Government of India. At 26, Mariyappan is still in his early days as a para-athlete but with the experience of Rio 2016, he would look to add one more medal to his bag.
Amit Kumar Saroha (Club Throw & Discus Throw)
At the 2014 Asian Para Games in Korea, Amit won a gold medal in Club Throw and a silver medal in Discuss Throw. In the 2017 World Parathletics Championship, he won Silver Medal setting a new Asian record with a throw of 30.25m. Amit has been conferred the Arjuna Award for his outstanding sporting achievements. And now he would look to add a Paralympic medal to his glory.
Rubina Francis (Shooting – 10m Air Pistol P2)
Rubina Francis will be making her debut at the Paralympics 2021. She is India’s first para pistol shooter at the Games. The Gold Medallist from the Lima World Cup earlier in June in 2021 also set a world record in Peru. She broke the world record in the 10m pistol event by scoring 238.1 points. Rubina has also won Bronze in P2 at the 2019 WSPS World Cup, Croatia, and a Gold at the Junior World Record in P2 at the 2019 WSPS World Cup, Bangkok, Thailand.
Rubina Francis did not perform well in the qualifying campaigns for the Paralympics 2021, and then got infected with the coronavirus. Her participation at the games was in doubt. But the young prodigy fought back strongly and won the gold medal at the Para Shooting event in Peru. World No.5 will be roaring to make her mark at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Sandeep Chaudhary (F-44 Javelin)
World no.1, Sandeep Chaudhary is one of India’s best medal hopes in the Tokyo Paralympics. At the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, he won a gold medal and set a new world record of 60.01 m. At World Para Athletics’ 2021 Dubai Grand Prix, Chaudhary won a gold medal and bettered his own world record with a throw of 66.22m.
“I want to throw my personal best during the Tokyo Paralympics. If I do that, I would be happy. During Rio, I did not know how things work. I was competing at the Paralympics for the first time, but it is a thing of the past now and not something which affects me. I have improved a lot in the field, and my thinking has also changed and do not focus much on results now; all I think of is throwing my best in all my attempts,” Sandeep said in an interview with Bridge
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