CHENNAI: It turned out to be a manic Monday for India at the Tokyo Paralympics. Five medals including two gold, as many silver and one bronze in one day is the best by the country better than the four won at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The five protagonists had five different stories but the two that definitely hogged the limelight were javelin thrower Sumit Antil and shooter Avani Lekhara, and both entwined by similar tale of horror -- accident.
When Sumit lost his leg in a motorbike accident in 2015, his first love -- wrestling -- had to be shelved. He turned his attention towards javelin on the advise of a para-athlete from his village. With prosthetics on, Sumit managed to show glimpses of his prowess and on Monday he won gold with a world record.
As fate would have it, he met Tokyo 2020 Olympics gold medallist Neeraj Chopra three years ago and even had a training stint together in 2018. Sumit doesn't limit himself competing in Para sporting events. Such is his confidence that he challenges able-bodied men too. He even competed against Neeraj Chopra and co at the Indian Grand Prix 3 in March. Sumit finished seventh then with Chopra shattering his own national record with an attempt of 88.07m. No wonder, as soon as the news of Sumit's gold flashed across social media, Neeraj tweeted "Khatarnak performance bhai Sumit, proud of you (Deadly performance brother Sumit, proud of you)."
"This is my first Paralympics and I was a little nervous because the competitors are great. I was hoping for a 70m+ throw, maybe I can do 75m. It was not my best, I am very happy to break the world record," said Sumit after the win.
"We have a small community of javelin throwers in the country. Sumit loves competing against Neeraj. They practice together and it's quite obvious they share a special bond," Naval Singh, Sumit's coach, told this daily. "Back in 2018, they even had a one-month long training stint in Finland. They share knowledge and give suggestions to each other," he added.