After India’s historic run at the 2020 Olympics, the attention now turns to the Paralympic Games in Tokyo as India sends its largest contingent with 54 para-athletes competing in 9 disciplines. Five years ago in Rio, India achieved its best-ever result in the Paralympics with four medals including two golds, so here are 5 athletes who can help India better that haul and go for gold at the 2020 Paralympic Games.
5. Sharad Kumar – High Jump
What I do 😊 pic.twitter.com/OrkSu2yVzP
— Sharad Kumar #tokyo2020 (@sharad_kumar01) January 28, 2020
Sharad Kumar is ranked world number one in the Men’s T42 High Jump event and will be looking to win the elusive gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics after training in Ukraine since 2017 for this event. The 29-year-old has won medals at the Asian Para Games and the IPC World Championships, and his form leading up to the games makes him one of the favourites to stand on the top step of the podium.
4. Pramod Bhagat – Badminton
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Badminton makes its debut at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and world number one Pramod Bhagat is one of the favourites to bring home a gold medal in the Men’s Singles SL3 category. The four-time World Champion won two golds and a bronze at the Dubai Para-Badminton tournament earlier this year and was recently named as the Differently Abled Sportsman of the Year at the Indian Sports Honours Awards.
3. Manish Narwal – Shooting
Para shooter Manish Narwal has been at the forefront of Indian shooting, winning many accolades. This time too he clinched a Gold in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol event as well as a Silver in the Mixed 50m Free Pistol at the Asian Para Games 2018. pic.twitter.com/qyqqkzZhYU
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 16, 2018
Manish Narwal created history earlier this year after winning a gold medal in the Para-Shooting World Cup with his world record attempt of 229.1 points in the final. The 19-year-old also won a bronze in the 2019 World Championships in Sydney and is ranked fourth in the 10m air pistol SH1 event ahead of the Paralympics.
2. Mariyappan Thangavelu – High Jump
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Tamil Nadu’s Mariyappan Thanagevlu won gold for India in the 2016 Rio Games in the Men’s T42 high jump event and will be India’s flag bearer for the opening ceremony in Tokyo. The Khel Ratna winner qualified for the Paralympics with his bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships, and his ability to perform in pressure situations puts him amongst the top prospects to win gold in Tokyo.
1. Devendra Jhajharia – Javelin Throw
— Anju Bobby George (@anjubobbygeorg1) August 11, 2021
Following the achievement of Neeraj Chopra in the Olympic Games, India are also the favourites to bring home the gold in the Javelin Throw at the Paralympics with two-time gold medallist Devendra Jhajaria. The 40-year-old first won gold in the F-46 Javelin Throw attempt at the 2004 Athens Paralympics before securing his 2nd gold in Rio in 2016. Jhajharia recently broke his own world record at the national selection trials with a throw of 65.71 metres, and a third Paralympic Gold Medal will etch his name in history as one of the world’s greatest para-athletes.