This is the nation’s best-ever performance at the Paralympic Games.
The Tokyo Paralympics were a historic campaign for the Indian contingent. Several Indian athletes brought back laurels for the country with their impressive performances at the quadrennial event, as it proved to be the best Paralympics campaign for India.
Having won a total of 19 medals, India recorded its best-ever medal tally at the Paralympic Games. The nation surpassed the previous mark of four medals by a country mile, which was set at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. In Rio, Devendra Jhajaria and Mariyappan Thangavelu claimed gold medals. On the other hand, Deepa Malik and Varun Singh Bhati won silver and bronze medals respectively.
At Tokyo 2020, a record number of Indian athletes qualified for the Paralympic Games. It was hoped that this will be the best-ever Paralympics campaign for India. The Indian athletes lived up to that reputation. They participated in nine different sports, winning at least one medal in five of those. The athletics events fetched the country the most medals, winning eight medals across various disciplines.
Let’s take a look at all the Indian medalists from Tokyo Paralympics 2020:
Avani Lekhara – Shooting
Avani Lekhara created history by becoming the first-ever Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Paralympic Games. Having finished the qualification round in seventh place, she took her game to a whole new level in the women’s R2 10m air rifle SH3 final. A phenomenal performance meant she achieved a total score of 249.6. In doing so, Lekhara equalled the world record and set a new Paralympic record.
A couple of days later, the 19-year-old went on to add another medal to her collection. This time Lekhara bagged a bronze medal in the women’s R8 50m rifle 3 positions SH1. Therefore, Avani Lekhara became the first Indian woman to win multiple medals at the quadrennial event.
Sumit Antil – Javelin Throw
Javelin thrower Sumit Antil delivered one of the greatest performances in the history of the Paralympic Games. He smashed the world record an astonishing five times on the way to claiming a gold medal in the men’s javelin throw F64 final.
The 23-year-old’s fifth attempt of 68.55m was the pick of the bunch. Antil bettered the previous world record of 62.88m, which was also set by him. Once again, a remarkable performance from an Indian javelin thrower on the grandest stage!
Manish Narwal – Shooting
It was glory for Manish Narwal in the final of the mixed P4 50m pistol SH1 event. He accumulated a total score of 218.2. The 19-year-old showed no sign of nerves, taking part in his maiden Paralympics campaign. His gold medal further confirms India’s growing reputation for producing world-class young shooters.
Narwal’s score of 218.2 is also a new Paralympic record. Furthermore, he also holds the world record with 229.1 points, set in Al Ain, UAE in March earlier this year.
Pramod Bhagat – Badminton
Pramod Bhagat brought home a badminton gold medal for India in the men’s singles SL3 category. He faced home favourite Daisuke Fujihara in the semi-final. The first game was a walk in the park with the second being slightly more challenging for him. Bhagat won the match 21-11, 21-16 to move into the final of the Tokyo Paralympics.
In the gold medal match, the Indian shuttler was up against Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell. Bethell provided a stern test for Bhagat but he ultimately triumphed 21-14, 21-17. With this, he clinched India’s fourth gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Krishna Nagar – Badminton
Another Indian shuttler in action in Tokyo was Krishna Nagar. He defeated Great Britain’s Krysten Coombs 21-10, 21-11 in the semi-final.
Hong Kong’s Man Kai Chu was Nagar’s opponent in the men’s singles SL6 final. A 21-17, 16-21, 21-17 victory meant that he won a memorable gold medal.
Singhraj – Shooting
Singhraj is the only Indian male to have won multiple medals at Tokyo 2020. He first tasted success by winning the bronze medal in the 10m air pistol SH1 category at the Tokyo Paralympics. However, he was hungry for more.
The 39-year-old went one better by winning a silver medal in the mixed P4 50m pistol SH1 category. He shot a total score of 216.7, to comfortably finish second behind compatriot Manish Narwal. The Indian shooter finished well ahead of RPC’s Sergey Malyshev, who clinched the bronze medal with a score of 196.8.
Bhavina Patel – Table Tennis
Indian paddler Bhavina Patel performed brilliantly at the Tokyo Paralympics. She was in the groove after beating Great Britain’s Megan Shackleton in her final group stage match in the women’s singles Class 4 category. Bhavina started the knockout rounds by getting the better of Brazilian Joyce de Oliveira 3-0 in the Round of 16. In the quarterfinals, she sent the defending champion Borislava Rankovic Peric of Serbia packing in just 18 minutes.
The 34-year-old produced yet another masterclass to reach the final of the Tokyo Paralympics. She got the better of China’s Miao Zhang 3-2 in the semi-final meeting. Despite a defeat to World No. 1 Chinese paddler Ying Zhou in the gold medal match, Bhavina Patel won plenty of plaudits for her silver medal showing in Tokyo.
Suhas Yathiraj – Badminton
Suhas Yathiraj was one of the most talked-about athletes prior to the commencement of the Tokyo Paralympics. Yathiraj proved his mettle as he brushed aside Indonesia’s Fredy Setiawan 21-9, 21-15 in just 31 minutes in the semi-final.
The Indian shuttler was up against Frenchman Lucas Mazur in the final of the men’s singles SL4 category. Despite suffering a defeat, Yathiraj will have a silver medal to show for his valiant effort.
Devendra Jhajaria – Javelin Throw
At Tokyo 2020, Devendra Jhajaria cemented his place in the pantheon of Indian athletics legends. Having already won gold medals at Athens 2004 and Rio 2016, the javelin thrower was aiming for another Paralympic medal in Tokyo. He was participating in the quadrennial games at the ripe age of 40.
Jhajaria threw the spear to a distance of 64.35m in the final of the men’s javelin F46 event. In doing so, he achieved a personal best distance and clinched the silver medal. Devendra Jhajaria is now the country’s most decorated Paralympic athlete with three medals to his name.
Mariyappan Thangavelu – High Jump
Mariyappan Thangavelu is another familiar name in Indian athletics. He had won the gold medal in the men’s high jump at Rio 2016. In the men’s high jump T63 final, Thangavelu recorded the best distance of 1.86m. That was the 26-year-old’s season-best performance and handed him the silver medal.
Nishad Kumar – High Jump
One of the brightest para-athletes in India is Nishad Kumar. The 21-year-old lived up to the billing with a silver in Tokyo. Nishad bagged the silver medal with a jump of 2.06m in the men’s high jump T47 final. That is also a new Asian record and has been set on the biggest stage of them all.
Yogesh Kathuniya – Discus Throw
By hurling the disc to a distance of 44.38m, Yogesh Kathuniya not only registered a season-best performance but also a medal at the Paralympic Games. A silver medal for the 24-year-old Delhi boy in the men’s discus throw F56 category was a proud moment for the nation.
Praveen Kumar – High Jump
Praveen Kumar bagged another medal for India in athletics. He participated in the men’s high jump T64 final and put in a memorable showing. Kumar set a new Asian record with a best jump of 2.07m to win silver. He fell just short of gold medalist Great Britain’s Jonathan Broom-Edwards’ 2.10m jump. At 18, Praveen Kumar also became the youngest Indian to win a Paralympic medal.
Sundar Singh Gurjar – Javelin Throw
Yet another Indian javelin thrower, yet another masterclass. Sundar Singh Gurjar shared the men’s javelin throw F46 podium alongside the great Devendra Jhajaria. The 25-year-old achieved a season-best distance of 64.01m in the final. It was enough to give him a bronze medal at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Sharad Kumar – High Jump
Sharad Kumar shared the podium alongside fellow countryman Mariyappan Thangavelu in the men’s high jump T63 final. He achieved a season-best 1.83m distance in the final. It was just short of Thangavelu’s 1.86m mark. However, Sharad Kumar should be proud of his efforts and comes home with a bronze medal.
Harvinder Singh – Archery
An Indian archer finally won a medal on the grandest stage in Tokyo. Harvinder Singh delivered a proud moment for the country. He clinched the bronze medal in the men’s individual recurve category.
Singh suffered a 6-4 defeat to American Kevin Mather in the semi-final. However, he redeemed himself in the bronze medal clash against South Korean archer Kim Min-Su, defeating him in a thrilling affair with a score of 6-5 to claim the bronze medal.
Manoj Sarkar – Badminton
Another badminton medal for India was picked up courtesy of Manoj Sarkar. He ousted Daisuke Fujihara in the bronze medal match of the men’s singles SL4 event. The first game lasted for 27 minutes and was a nervy affair.
Sarkar won the first game and showed confidence to pocket the second. Fujihara’s shoulders dropped after losing a tight first game and he couldn’t stage a comeback. Manoj Sarkar went on to win 22-20, 21-13 to bring home a badminton bronze medal.