India is sending their biggest ever contingent for any Paralympics event
The Tokyo Paralympics are set to begin on 24 August 2021. India is going to send its biggest team ever which comprises 54 para-athletes. The last edition of the Paralympics in Rio was hugely successful for the country.
They won two golds, one silver and one bronze medal, matching their best-ever tally of four medals. However, at the upcoming Games, the para-athletes are aiming for a bigger haul. The recently concluded Tokyo Olympics saw India collect seven medals, their best tally ever. The para-athletes will be looking to emulate the feat and achieve their best ever tally as well.
Therefore, here is a look at the top-10 Indian medal hopefuls, as the Paralympics are right around the corner:
Sundar Singh Gurjar (Javelin F-46)
The javelin F-46 category will see Sundar Singh Gurjar contest for a medal. He will be representing India alongside compatriot and former medalist Devendra Jhajharia at the Tokyo Paralympics. The 25-year-old won the gold at the IPC World Championships in London. He is a strong contender for a gold medal.
Harvinder Singh (men’s recurve open)
India is yet to win it’s first medal in archery at the Paralympics. This wait could come to an end thanks to Harvinder Singh. He is a strong medal prospect and recently won gold at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Singh is the only para-archer to win gold at a major tournament.
Pramod Bhagat (Badminton)
Pramod Bhagat is one of the best para-shuttlers India has ever seen. He is a strong gold medal contender at the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics. Bhagat is the World No.1 para-shuttler and could bring golds in both singles and doubles categories. Interestingly, this is the first time badminton is being played at the Paralympics. He has already received the Arjuna Award in 2019.
Deepender Singh (10m Air Pistol)
Deepender Singh is an ace para-shooter and will contest in the P1 and SH1 categories of the Men’s 10m Air Pistol event. He has previously won medals on the international stage for India. Singh won the silver medal in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol at the Para Sport World Cup 2018 in France. He has also won gold in the Men’s 10m Air Pistol at the Para Sport World Cup 2017 in Thailand.
Varun Singh Bhatti (High Jump T-63)
Varun Singh Bhatti won the bronze medal during the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He did so in the high jump T-63 event. His bronze was the fourth medal, matching India’s best-ever medal tally. Now, Bhatti will be aiming to win his second Paralympics medal in Tokyo.
Ajeet Singh (Javelin F-46)
Javelin is a strong category with heavy Indian representation. Ajeet Singh will be contesting in the F-46 category and aiming to bring a medal home. He has been in good form before coming to Tokyo. Ajeet Singh Yadav won a gold medal at the Para Athletics Grand Prix 2021 in Dubai in February. He previously won the bronze medal at the World Para Athletics Championship in Dubai 2019.
Sumit Antil (javelin F-64)
Sumit Antil will represent India at the javelin F-64 event alongside Sandeep Chaudhary. He secured Paralympics qualification by clinching the silver medal at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships. He finished second behind Sandeep Chaudhary there and will look to finish ahead of him this time around.
Mariyappan Thangavelu – (High jump T-42)
Mariyappan Thangavelu is a strong medal hope as well. The Arjuna Awardee opened India’s account at the 2016 Rio Paralympics by winning the gold medal. His was one of the two golds India would win in Rio. Several eyes will be on the high jump T-42 event as Thangavelu aims to become a two-time gold winner.
Sandeep Chaudhary (Javelin F-64)
India has strong hopes from it’s javelin contingent and they are hoping for six medals, preferably gold. They will be even more inspired after witnessing Neeraj Chopra secure India’s first-ever gold in athletics recently in Tokyo.
Sandeep Chaudhary will be in the javelin F-64 event at the Tokyo Paralympics. He is looking to win his first Paralympic gold medal in the men’s F-64 and is the world champion in the category. The favourite to win the gold also holds the world record in the category with a best of 66.18m
Devendra Jhajharia – (Javelin F-46)
Devendra Jhajharia will again don Indian colours and play in the javelin F-46 category. He is the first Indian para-athlete to win two gold medals at the Paralympics. The first was the gold in men’s Javelin throw in 2004 Athens and the second gold was in 2016 Rio. He could become the first-ever Indian athlete to win three gold medals at the Paralympics.