CHENNAI: It turned out to be a dream day for India at the Tokyo Paralympics with a slight aberration. The country’s para athletes won a bagful of medals including two gold on Friday with the only disappointment being discus thrower Vinod Kumar losing his F52 category bronze medal after being found ineligible in disability classification assessment by the competition panel.
The debutant duo of javelin thrower Sumit Antil (23) and shooter Avani Lekhara (19) set new world records on their way to winning gold. Two-time gold medallist javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia clinched an impressive third Paralympic medal, a silver this time, while discus thrower Yogesh Kathuniya also finished second in F56 category as India surpassed its best ever medal tally at the Games. Sundar Singh Gurjar also chipped in with a bronze, finishing behind Jhajharia in the men’s javelin throw F46 final. India had won four medals in the 2016 edition while the medal count stands at seven in the ongoing event.
Already the country’s greatest Paralympian, the 40-year-old Jhajahria bettered his previous world record (63.97m) with a throw of 64.35m. Jhajharia had won a gold medal each in the 2004 and 2016 Games. The 25-year-old Gurjar, who lost his left hand in 2015 after a metal sheet fell on him at his friend’s house, was third with a best effort of 64.01m.
Jhajharia dedicated the medal to his father, who passed away last year after being diagnosed with cancer. “Of course, this medal belongs to the people of the country but I also want to dedicate this to my late father who had wanted me to win another medal in the Paralympics,” Jhajharia told PTI. “I would not be here if it was not for my father’s efforts. It was him, who pushed me to train hard and win another medal. I am happy that today I have fulfilled his dream.” Earlier, discus thrower Kathuniya clinched silver by sending the disc to a distance of 44.38m in his sixth and last attempt. He suffered a rare neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre syndrome causing quadriparesis in 2006. It confined Yogesh to a wheelchair with physiotherapy only the option. His mother Meena Devi decided to learn physiotherapy to ensure her son stands on his feet.
Vinod seeks government support
After being found ineligible in disability classification assessment by the competition panel, the 41-year-old Vinod was inconsolable. He, in fact, appealed to the government to keep supporting him so that he can make a strong comeback in the 2024 Games. “I request the central and Haryana governments to support me financially as I aim to make a strong comeback in the Paris Olympics. I was made to undergo medical examinations for more than four hours and then I was classified in F52 category. How can they now deprive me of the medal,” rued Vinod.