The Rajasthan born para javelin thrower is one of the chief medal contenders at the Tokyo Paralympics.

The Tokyo Paralympics are edging nearer and India are sending a record 54 para-athletes to the quadrennial event. Out of them, there are a number of medal contenders. Chief among them is Devendra Jhajhariya, a para-athlete known for his exploits with the javelin. Jhajharia is the world record holder and the current Olympic champion in the Javelin F-46 category.

Here, we take a look at five things you might not know about the ace Paralympian.

5. Born without disability

Devendra Jhajhariya was born in 1981 in the Churu district of Rajasthan. He was born without any disability. At the age of eight, the current Paralympian touched a live electric cable while climbing a tree. He received medical attention, but doctors were forced to amputate his left hand due to the accident.

4. Winner of both Arjuna Award and Khel Ratna Awards

After his record-breaking gold medal victory at the Athens Paralympics, the Government of India bestowed Devendra Jhajhariya with the Arjuna Award. He shone on the world stage soon after, winning gold at the IPC World Championships in 2013 in Lyon and followed it with a silver In 2015 in Doha.

Rio 2016 proved to be another record-breaking Paralympics for Jhajharia and he was awarded the highest honour in Indian sport, the Khel Ratna Award in 2017.

3. First Paralympian to win Padma Shri award

In 2012, a string of impressive performances prompted the Indian government to confer on Devendra Jhajhariya the Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian honour in the country. In receiving the award, the Rajasthani athlete became the first-ever Paralympian to win the esteemed honour.

The trailblazer had already become just the second Indian to win the Paralympic gold medal by then and was making waves at the World Para Championships as well.

2. World record holder in F-46 Javelin category

Jhajharia’s most captivating accomplishment could be the world record he holds in Javelin throw in the F-46 category. He broke the world record during both his gold medal winning throws, throwing it a distance of 62.15m in 2004, before following it up with a 63.97m effort in 2016.

In both instances his nearest challenger wasn’t able to cross the 60m mark. What gives optimism to the Paralympian, is that during a recently held trial at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Devendra Jhajhariya looked on course to beat his earlier established world record, when he threw the javelin over a distance of 65.71m.

1. First Indian Para athlete to win two Paralympic gold medals

Devendra Jhajhariya became the first Indian to win two Paralympic gold medals when he won the Javelin F-46 event at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. He had previously won gold at the Athens Paralympics in 2004 in the Javelin F-44/F-46 category.

Jhajharia is on track to better his medal tally in Tokyo after achieving qualification to the 2020 Paralympics. He is also currently only one of three gold medal winning Paralympians in Indian history.

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