A look at the glorious Indian Paralympics history
With seven medals, India ended up with their best finish at the summer Olympics and now it’s time for Para athletes to shine at the Tokyo Paralympics 2020. India has sent its biggest ever contingent to the Paralympics, 54 athletes across nine events.
India will make their debut in Badminton and Taekwondo. Aruna Tanwar will be the only athlete from India to compete in Taekwondo. Today (24 Aug) is the opening ceremony of the Paralympics and the events will kickstart from tomorrow (25 Aug). Mariyappan Thangavelu is in quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19 during his flight to Tokyo. Thus, Asian Gold medalist Tekchand will be the new Flag Bearer at the Opening Ceremony.
India in previous editions of Paralympics
The first Paralympics games were held in Rome, Italy, in 1960. The event features around 400 Para athletes from 23 countries. Since then, India has participated in 11 editions winning 12 medals – four gold, four silver, and four bronze. The following Para athletes have brought glory to the nation by winning medals at the mega event.
Murlikant Petkar – (Gold Medal in Heidelberg, 1972)
A Jawan in Indian Army switched to swimming from boxing after losing his arm in a bullet injury and went onto win the first Paralympic medal for India, Murlikant Petkar is an inspiration to generations to come.
He won a gold medal at the 1972 Heidelberg Games in the men’s 50m freestyle S3 event. It was the first medal for India, as Petkar clocked 37.33 seconds to finish first. The veteran of the 1965 Indo-Pak War, Murlikant Petkar was honored with the Padma Shri in 2018.
Bhimrao Kesarkar – (Silver Medal in New York, 1984)
A throw of 34.55 meters in the men’s javelin throw L6 begged a Silver Medal for Bhimrao Kesarkar in the 1984 Paralympics which was co-hosted by Stoke Mandeville, United Kingdom, and New York, USA. The 1984 Paralympics was one of the most successful editions for India.
Joginder Singh Bedi – (One Silver Medal & Two Bronze Medal in New York, 1984)
A man with brute strength and technique, Joginder Singh Bedi aced the 1984 New York Paralympics games with some stellar throwing performances. He won a silver medal in the men’s shot put L6 event with A 10.08-meter throw.
The silver was followed by a bronze in men’s javelin throw L6, where Bedi managed a 34.18m throw. After that, it was time for the Discuss throw, where Bedi won another bronze with a throw of 28.16-meter in the men’s discus throw L6.
Devendra Jhajharia – (Two Gold Medals)
The most decorated Paralympians in India, Devendra Jhajharia has won two gold medals at the mega event. Jhajharia’s Gold in the men’s javelin throw F44/46 event in 2004 Paralympics, Athens ended the 20-year medal drought for India. In 2012, he was awarded the Padma Shri.
In Rio 2016, after 12 years, Devendra Jhajharia scripted history by winning his second gold in the men’s javelin throw F46 event. The golden throw was 63.97m long. He received the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna in 2017.
Rajinder Singh Rahelu (Bronze medal in Athens, 2004)
Rajinder Singh Rahelu r won a bronze medal in the men’s 56kg weight class by lifting 157.5kgs. He received the Arjuna Award in 2005.
Girish N Gowda (Silver Medal in London, 2012)
Girish N Gowda won the only medal in 2012 for India. He won a silver medal in the men’s high jump F42 event. Girish received the Padma Shri in 2013 and the Arjuna Award in 2014.
Mariyappan Thangavelu (Gold Medal in Rio, 2016)
At the Rio 2016 Paralympics, Tamil Nadu’s Mariyappan Thangavelu won a gold medal in the men’s high jump F42 event with a 1.89-meter jump.
Mariyappan has received the Padma Shri, the Arjuna Award, and the Major Dyan Chand Khel Ratna.
Varun Singh Bhati (Bronze Medal in Rio, 2016)
Varun Singh Bhati joined Mariyappan Thangavelu on the podium with a Bronze medal. Varun received the Arjuna award in 2018.
Deepa Malik (Silver Medal in Rio, 2016)
The only Indian woman to ever win a medal in the Paralympics is Deepa Malik. With a throw of 4.61m, Malik won the silver medal in the women’s shot put F53 event at the 2016 Rio Paralympics games. Deepa Malik received the Arjuna Award in 2012, the Padma Shri in 2017, and the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award in 2019.