Here, we bring to you the most successful Paralympians that India has seen so far.
By Reya Mehrotra
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have brought to light an illustrious list of Indian sportspersons who put up exceptional performances. Here, we bring to you the most successful Paralympians that India has seen so far.
Indian Paralympian Nishad Kumar is a high jumper who won a silver medal in the men’s high jump T47 category, creating a new Asian record of 2.06 m. Kumar, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, had lost his right hand at the age of eight during an accident, but took up para-athletics in 2009. He shared the silver medal with Dallas Wise of US who also cleared the same distance as him.
The Indian Paralympian and rifle shooter Avani Lekhara struck gold at this year’s Paralympic games. She won gold in the 10m air rifle standing at the games. It was a car accident at the age of 11 in 2012 that rendered her with complete paraplegia. However, she fought against the odds and became the first woman from India to win a gold at the Paralympics. She’s also currently world number five in women’s 10m air rifle standing and has also been a part of the 2018 Asian Para Games.
Indian Paralympian and javelin thrower Sumit Antil won a gold medal in men’s javelin throw F64 category this year, creating a world record by throwing 68.55 m in the final. Antil had lost his left leg below the knee after an accident at the age of 17. Earlier in 2019, he broke the world record in the F64 category at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix that was held in Italy and won the silver medal.
India’s first Paralympic gold medallist Murlikant Petkar won an individual gold medal in the 1972 Summer Paralympics in Germany, setting a world record in the 50m swimming freestyle event at 37.33 seconds. During the same sports event, he had also participated in javelin, precision javelin throw and slalom, and emerged a finalist in all the three. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2018. Petkar, who was disabled during the 1965 war against Pakistan, was a jawan in the Indian army. He had taken to swimming and other sports after being crippled. Originally a boxer at the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), he was later employed by TELCO in Pune.
The Paralympics of 1984 was one of India’s most successful Paralympics where India won four medals and finished 37th out of 54 participating nations. It was co-hosted by New York and Stoke Mandeville in the UK. During the games, Bhimrao Kesarkar, with a throw of 34.55 metres, won a silver medal in the men’s javelin throw L6. He also competed in the men’s 100 metre freestyle L6 event but finished fifth.
Joginder Singh Bedi
Indian track and field Paralympic athlete Joginder Singh Bedi competed at the 1984 Summer Paralympics where he won three medals. He won silver at the men’s shot-put L6 event with a throw of 10.06 metres and bronze at the discus and javelin throw events.
Bhavina Patel from Gujarat is a parathlete and table tennis player who won silver in Class 4 table tennis at the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo. Playing from her wheelchair, she has won several silvers and golds in her career. At the PTT Table Tennis Championship in 2011, she won the silver medal and reached the world ranking of number two. During this year’s final match, she competed against the current world number two, China’s Zhou Ying.
The Indian Paralympic discus throw athlete, who represented India this year, won a silver medal in the men’s discus throw F56 event. He suffers from Guillain Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder, and was confined to a wheelchair in 2006. However, he started to walk after his mother gave him physiotherapy. He started in para sports in 2017 while studying at Delhi’s Kirori Mal College.
Deepa Malik is the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympic games. She won silver at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in shot put. She was awarded Arjuna Award in 2012, Padma Shri in 2017 and Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award in 2019, among several others. She has previously also won gold at the F-53/54 javelin event at the Para Athletic Grand Prix held in Dubai in 2018. Currently, she is world number one in the F-53 category.