Debutant Sumit Antil smashed his world record multiple times for the F64 class gold medal while veteran Devendra Jhajharia bagged silver in the F46 category as the javelin throwers led the country’s track-and-field medal rush at the Paralympics here on Monday.
Another javelin thrower, Sundar Singh Gurjar picked up bronze in Jhajharia’s event, with discus thrower Yogesh Kathuniya’s F56 silver ensuring that India made its presence felt across the podium. The man of the moment was the 23-year-old Sumit as he bludgeoned his way to the top of the podium with an astonishing fifth attempt of 68.55m marks, which was the best of the day by quite a distance.
Sonepat-based Sumit, who lost his left leg portion below the knee after he was involved in a motorbike accident in 2015, bettered the previous world record of 62.88m, also set by him, five times on the day. His last throw was a foul. His series read 66.95, 68.08, 65.27, 66.71, 68.55, and foul. Australian Michal Burian (66.29m) and Sri Lanka’s Dulan Kodithuwakku (65.61m) took silver and bronze respectively.
The F64 category is for athletes with a leg amputation, who compete with prosthetics in a standing position. Sumit had won a silver medal in the F64 javelin throw at the 2019 World Championships in Dubai.
Jhajharia wins his third medal
Jhajharia clinched a stupendous third Paralympic medal, silver this time, while Gurjar finished behind his compatriot to take bronze. The F46 classification is for athletes with arm deficiency, impaired muscle power, or impaired passive range of movement in arms. The 40-year-old Jhajharia, already India’s greatest Paralympian after winning gold medals in the 2004 and 2016 Games, pulled off a new personal best throw of 64.35m.
Jhajharia, who lost his left hand after accidentally touching an electric wire, finished behind gold winner and new world record holder Dinesh Priyan Herath Mudiyanselage (67.79m) of Sri Lanka.
“In sport and competition, these kind of things happen. There are always ups and downs. I did my best. But, it so happened that it was his (Sri Lankan’s) day,” Jhajharia told PTI. The 25-year-old Gurjar, who lost his left hand after a metal sheet fell on him at a friend’s house, was third with a best effort of 64.01m.
Kathuniya comes second
Discus thrower Kathuniya clinched a silver medal in the men’s F56 event. The 24-year-old sent the disc to a distance of 44.38m on his sixth and last attempt to finish second. Brazil’s defending champion and world record holder Claudiney Batista dos Santos won gold with a best throw of 45.59m while Leonardo Diaz Aldana (43.36m) of Cuba took bronze. In the F56 classification, athletes have full arm and trunk muscle power. Kathuniya had trained for the Paralympics without a coach.