The Tokyo Paralympics saw the world not only come together to celebrate sports but also the athletes who showed incredible resistance and dedication to perform on this grand stage. India’s success at the Tokyo Olympics saw the momentum shift towards the Indian contingent at the Paralympics, who created history before even leaving for Tokyo.
India would be sending its largest ever contingent to the Tokyo Paralympic Games, a total of 54 athletes over 9 sports. As para badminton made its debut at the Paralympics, India’s 7 player squad went with high expectations. Representation in sports such as Parataekwondo and Paracanoeing and firsts in archery, shooting and many other sports made the Paralympics memorable to say the least.
Let us take a look at how India performed at the Tokyo Paralympics, ending with an impressive run.
The year of Firsts for India at Tokyo Paralympics
Sending the largest ever contingent to the Paralympics was just the beginning of firsts for India. Bhavina Patel opened India’s medal tally, and became the first Indian paddler ever to win a medal in table tennis at the Olympics or the Paralympics, as she clinched a historic silver medal.
19-year-old Avani Lekhara then became the first Indian woman to win a medal in shooting, and followed up that historic gold medal with a bronze. History once again at the Paralympics, as Avani became the first Indian woman to win multiple medals in one Paralympic or Olympic Games.
Prachi Yadav impressed the nation to say the least, as she became the first Indian to ever participate and then go on to reach the finals of paracanoeing. Sakina Khatun became the first Indian women powerlifter to participate in the Parlaympics, and finished in an impressive 5th place. Taekwondo also saw a first for the nation, as Aruna Tanwar represented the country before retiring with a hairline fracture.
Harvinder Singh encountered one of the most emphatic wins at the Paralympics, winning a much awaited bronze medal in archery. He became the first Indian to win a medal in archery at the Olympics or Paralympics. Devendra Jhajharia sealed his place in the history books by winning a silver in javelin, and becoming the first Indian to win 3 medals over the span of 3 Paralympics.
India’s performance at the Tokyo Paralympics brought its highest ever medal haul, a total of 19 medals of which 5 were gold, 8 silver and 6 bronze.
India at Tokyo Paralympics: The Nation’s Golden Athletes
In India’s huge medal haul of 19, the Indian contingent picked up 5 gold medals, a huge boost for India’s momentum. The first gold was brought by 19-year-old Avani Lekhara, who clinched the top spot in the women’s R2- 10m air rifle SH1 event. She also went on to clinch a bronze later in the 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 event.
The second gold medal was after a spectacular performance by javelin thrower Sumit Antil, who stunned the world with his dominant performance. The massive throw of 68.55m shattered the old world record by over 6m, ensuring history for India.
Shooting saw another 19-year-old shine, this time Manish Narwal, taking a surprise first place after qualifying in seventh position in the mixed 50m pistol SH1. The remaining 2 medals came from the Para badminton contingent, as Pramod Bhagat, the world no.1 and Krishna Nagar, the world no.2 won gold medals in men’s singles in their respective fields.
India’s gold medals at just the Tokyo Paralympics surpassed the total gold medal tally from all the previous Paralympics, dating all the way back to 1972.
Spectacular New Records by the Indian Contingent
The Tokyo Paralympics saw the Indian contingent not only break the glass ceiling, but also break several world, area and Paralympic records.
Sumit Antil shattered the world and Paralympic record in men’s F64 javelin, not one but three times. The previous world record of 62.88m which was set by him was broken and a new Paralympic record was also set at 68.55m.
Nishad Kumar, who took a silver medal in men’s T47 high jump, set a new Area Best record by clearing a height of 2.06m. It was the same Praveen Kumar who also won a silver but in the T64 category set an area best record at an impressive height of 2.07m.
Avani Lekhara qualified in first place in the women’s 10m air rifle SH1 standing event, and she did so in style, by equalling the Paralympic Qualification Record and World Qualification record of 249.6.
Besides these notable records, several athletes improved their own personal best and season best, which is more than what can be asked from an athlete.
India at Tokyo Paralympics: Largest Ever Medal Haul
The medal haul at the Tokyo Paralympics was more than any previous total. Since 1972, India had won 12 medals at all the Paralympic Games till the 2016 Rio Paralympics. Not only was this number matched, but it was surpassed by a large amount, as India walked away with a total of 19 medals.
Along with 5 gold medals, the contingent won 8 silver medals and 6 bronze medals. The number of medals India won at this Paralympics was equal to the number of athletes it sent to the Rio Paralympics. Notable first medals in shooting, archery, table tennis and badminton made the medal haul a memorable one. Here is a list of all Indian Medallists at the Tokyo Paralympics:
|Bhavina Patel||Silver||Women’s single class 4Table Tennis|
|Nishad Kumar||Silver||Men’s T47 high jump|
|Avani Lekhara||Gold, Bronze||Women’s SH1 10m air rifle standing, women’s 50m rifle 3 position|
|Yogesh Kathuniya||Silver||Men’s F56 discus throw|
|Devendra Jhajharia||Silver||Men’s F46 javelin throw|
|Sundar Gurjar||Bronze||Men’s F46 javelin throw|
|Sumit Antil||Gold||Men’s F64 javelin throw|
|Singhraj Adhana||Silver, Bronze||Mixed 50m pistol, Men’s 10m air pistol|
|Mariyappan Thangavelu||Silver||Men’s T63 High jump|
|Sharad Kumar||Bronze||Men’s T63 High jump|
|Praveen Kumar||Silver||Men’s T64 High jump|
|Harvinder Singh||Bronze||Men’s Individual Archery|
|Manish Narwal||Gold||Mixed 50m pistol|
|Pramod Bhagat||Gold||Men’s SL3 badminton|
|Manoj Sarkar||Bronze||Men’s SL3 badminton|
|Suhas Yathiraj||Silver||Men’s SL4 badminton|
|Krishna Nagar||Gold||Men’s SH6 badminton|
Pramod Bhagat and Krishna Nagar created history by winning the first gold medals in Badminton for India as Para badminton made its debut at the Tokyo Paralympics. Athletics was the most successful event for India, with a total of 8 medals coming from the field. Shooting saw a total of 5 medals, including 2 gold.
The flag bearer for the opening ceremony was shot putter Tek Chand, while Avani Lekhara was rightfully the flag bearer for the closing ceremony. The performance of the Indian contingent at the Tokyo Paralympics has been a massively inspiring one, and will be etched in the minds of the nation for year to come. It serves as a gateway for future athletes to take the grand stage and continue the positive momentum, as a new tide for sports turned in India.