A total of 24 para-athletes are expected to qualify for the upcoming quadrennial event at Tokyo.

Country’s top para-athletes Devendra Jhajharia and Sandeep Chaudhary produced world record-breaking performances as the national selection trials for Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were successfully held at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on June 29 and 30, 2021.

A total of 72 para-athletes, including 18 female players, who had secured Minimum Qualification Standard (MQS) took part in the trials, with all of them aiming to secure a place in the final Para Athletics team list for Tokyo 2020.

NPC India has been granted 24 slots including four women athletes by the World Para Athletics and the final team list will be announced by the Paralympic Committee of India after the Selection Committee meeting on Friday.

All the top performers are expected to make the cut for the Tokyo 2020-bound team.

Jhajharia, a two-time Paralympic champion, threw the spear to a distance of 65. 71 metres in men’s Javelin throw F46 category, while Chaudhary got a distance of 66.44m in F44 category.

“This performance was very important to analyse my fitness and game. Due to Covid-19, I didn’t compete in many events. I want to thank my personal coach Sunil Talwar and strength and conditioning coach Lakhya Batra for their guidance and support. I feel very confident now,” said Jhajharia, who holds the current world record at 63.97m in the F46 category set at Rio 2016.

Meanwhile, the men’s javelin F44 world record is in the name of Chaudhary at 66.14m.

“It was a very satisfying performance as I could execute what we have been doing in the training. I resumed my training one and half months back after I was affected by Covid-19. I feel confident going into the Paralympic Games,” the reigning world champion Chaudhary told the Paralympic Committee of India.

High jumpers excel too

Among other names who had shown improved performances were javelin throwers Sundar Singh Gurjar and Ajeet Singh, who had their personal best shows, high jumpers Mariyappan Thangavelu, Rio 2016 Paralympic gold medallist, Sharad Kumar and Varun Singh Bhatti.

“I am amazed by the performances of our para-athletes in the last two days. Despite the Covid-19 Pandemic, discontinuation of camps and no exposure, they have shown their killer instincts,” said PCI President Dr Deepa Malik.

“They have raised the bar with their personal best performances here. I can confidently say that our athletes are ready for the Games.”

Meanwhile, coach Satyanarayan said the athletes’ performances have improved a lot in the last few months and that “India could win 8-10 medals at Tokyo 2020.”

In women’s events, club throwers Ekta Bhyan, Bhagyashree and sprinter Simran came up with brilliant shows to stay in the line for the final selection.

Bhyan, who got a distance of 17.20m, said: “As most of the players were competing after a long (participated only in National Para Athletics championship in one and half years) for an international event, this trial was a kind of check of our performances.

“I am optimistic of winning a medal at Tokyo Paralympic 2020.”

Athletes praise the arrangements, competition

The Paralympic Commission of India President, a Rio 2016 silver medallist, was personally present during the competition days and had also overseen the preparation, with the event being held with all the precautions and necessary arrangements at the warm up area track, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.   

Not just the Covid 19 protocols were strictly observed right from social distancing to taking a RT-PCR test and minimum one dose of Covishield vaccine, there were proper set up for technical check-up, dope tests, canopies, video recorders, accommodation and food for athletes etc.

The para-athletes also praised the arrangements and were ecstatic that PCI President Dr. Malik personally watched their performances and motivated them. “The trials went well with all necessary arrangements at Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium at Delhi,” Bhyan added.

Apart from PCI officials, Sports Authority of India Executive Director Team Division Radhika Sreeman, National Anti-Doping Agency Director General Siddharth Singh Longjam among others were present.

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