TOKYO, Aug 30:
Records tumbled and history was scripted more than once as India’s Paralympians, both young and old, recorded their best ever Games medal haul on just the sixth day of competitions here making it a memorable Monday for the country.
The debutant duo of Javelin thrower Sumit Antil (23) and shooter Avani Lekhara (19) shone the brightest with their epoch-making gold medals and there was a silver each for the 40-year-old veteran Devendra Jhajharia (javelin) and Yogesh Kathuniya (discus), along with a bronze for Sundar Singh Gurjar (javelin).
To put the performance into perspective, it is worth mentioning that India have so far won 14 medals in the history of Paralympics, with half of them coming in the ongoing competition, which is expected to yield more for the country.
India have so far won five medals in athletics — 1 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze. The silver medal from table tennis player Bhavinaben Patel came on Sunday.
The country stood 26th in the medals tally, an unprecedented high, surpassing the four medals it had won in 2016 Rio Paralympics.
However, in a heartbreak for the contingent, discus thrower Vinod Kumar (F52) lost his bronze won on Sunday after he was found “ineligible” in reassessment of his disability classification.
But that was after Lakhera, 19, became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Paralympics, firing her way to the top of the podium in the R-2 women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 event.
Jaipur’s Lakhera, who sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012, finished with a world record equalling total of 249.6, which was also a new Paralympic record.
Then, capping off India’s day in a blaze of glory, debutant Antil smashed his own world record five times for the F64 class gold, while Jhajharia’s F46 category silver cemented his status of being India’s greatest para-athlete as javelin throwers led the country’s track-and-field medal rush at the showpiece.
In between, another javelin thrower Gurjar picked up bronze in Jhajharia’s event, while discus thrower Kathuniya’s F56 silver ensured that India made its presence felt across the podium and through the day.
The man of the moment was, however, the 23-year-old Antil as he bludgeoned his way to the top of the podium with an astonishing fifth attempt of 68.55m mark, which was the best of the day by quite a distance and a new world record.
“In training, I have thrown 71m, 72m, many times. I don’t know what happened in my competition. One thing is for sure: in future I will throw much better,” Antil said after the stupendous performance.
Hailing from Sonepat in Haryana, Antil, who lost his left leg below the knee after he was involved in a motorbike accident in 2015, bettered the previous world record of 62.88m, also set by him, five times on the day.
His series, which read 66.95, 68.08, 65.27, 66.71, 68.55 and foul, made it seem that he was perhaps competing only with himself.
Australian Michal Burian (66.29m) and Sri Lanka’s Dulan Kodithuwakku (65.61m) took the silver and bronze respectively. (PTI)