For Indian sports fans, Rio de Janeiro gave more moments to celebrate from the Paralympics than the Olympics and if that is repeated in Tokyo, they would be in for a treat.
After a below par showing at Rio 2016 by the Olympic contingent, the Paralympians stepped up for India, registering the country’s best result with two gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
The Paralympic Games for 2020, postponed like the Olympics were, will officially begin on August 24. Tokyo will be the first city to host the Paralympics twice, with the tournament’s first edition held in Rome in 1960 followed by Tokyo in 1964. Paralympics and Olympics have been held together in the same city each time since the Seoul 1988 Games.
India’s contingent for Tokyo Paralympics is nearly thrice as large as that of Rio 2016.
The country is fielding its largest ever contingent with 54 athletes set to compete across nine para sports including – Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Canoeing, Shooting, Swimming, Powerlifting, Table Tennis and Taekwondo. In Rio 2016, the number of athletes representing India at the Paralympics was 19, spread across five sports. The result was was also a record tally with two gold, one silver and one bronze. The count of athletes stood at just 10 in London four years previously, with one medal.
Expectations are aplenty from the Indian Paralympians, given some of their recent successes in the international arena.
At Tokyo, India will have not one but two former gold medallists. Both Devendra Jhajharia and Mariyappan Thangavelu are back to defend their Rio 2016 titles. Javelin throw will once again be the focus for Indian fans, with Sumit Antil and Sandeep Chaudhary primed for podium finish in their category. Badminton’s addition to the Games’ roster is a boost for India’s hopes as well.
The athletes representing India at the Tokyo Paralympics span birthdays across 30 years. The 1973-born Parul Parmar (badminton) is the oldest in the contingent that has four 40-year-olds including double gold medallist Jhajharia. At the other end of the spectrum is Parmar’s doubles partner Palak Kohli, who recently turned 19 years old. The youngest Indian athlete in the contingent is 17-year-old Kashish Lakra (club throw). The average age of the contingent is 29.35.
Mariyappan will be the flagbearer at the opening ceremony for India.
India's entries at Tokyo Paralympics
(Scroll across or swipe right in the tables below to view all columns on the screen)
|Men's Individual Compound - Open||Rakesh Kumar||36||Sport Class: W2|
|Men's Individual Compound - Open||Shyam Sundar Swami||24||Sport Class: ST|
|Men's Individual Recurve - Open||Harvinder Singh||30||Sport Class: ST|
|Men's Individual Recurve - Open||Vivek Chikara||31||Sport Class: ST|
|Women's Individual Compound - Open||Jyoti Balyan||27||Sport Class: ST|
Along with badminton, athletics is where the majority of India’s hopes will lie.
Watch out for 30 August where all eyes will be on the legendary Devendra Jhajharia, who will be gunning for an unprecedented third Paralympics gold medal. Having won the gold in Athens 2004, Jhajharia had to wait till Rio 2016 for a second chance at the world’s biggest stage as the F46 category was not included in 2008 and 2012. But he grabbed his chance in Brazil with a world record to eclipse his own world record and clinch gold.
“I had to wait for 12 years after winning my first gold medal in 2004. I made the most of the opportunity and bagged my second gold at Rio de Janeiro. I don’t want to miss this opportunity in Tokyo,” Jhajharia has said.
The men’s javelin F46 event could turn out to be rather special for the Indian contingent. While Jhajharia will have his eye on gold, look out for Sundar Singh Gurjar who had an unfortunate experience in Rio. He missed the call for his event and could not compete, and it was in an event where he was seen as a serious medal hope. Back on the circuit, and in for, he will fancy his chances.
Another javelin event to look our for on the same day is the men’s F64, where Sandeep and Sumit are serious contenders after their 1-2 finish at the World Championships in 2019.
And of course, Mariyappan Thangavelu is back to defend his title from Rio 2016. The men’s high jump T63 event is also a big one for India, with Rio bronze medallist Varun Singh Bhati and the impressive Sharad Kumar in fray.
“Since many years, India has a strong presence in Para athletics at the Paralympics,” Para Athletics coach Satyanarayan told the Paralympic Committee of India. “Last time we had four medals at Rio 2016. This time, we have a strong team comprising of both experienced and newcomers. This will be a great opportunity for the youngsters which are eager to make a mark. We are expecting at least 10 medals with two Paralympic records.”
Also, a fun-fact worth mentioning: Amit Kumar Saroha, the veteran who is making his third Paralympics appearance, is in the Indian contingent alongside a couple of athletes he has trained and mentored in Ekta Bhyan and Dharambir.
|Men's High Jump - T47||Nishad Kumar||21||Sport Class: T47|
|Men's High Jump - T47||Ram Pal||32||Sport Class: T47|
|Men's High Jump - T63||Varun Singh Bhati||26||Sport Class: T42|
|Men's High Jump - T63||Sharad Kumar||29||Sport Class: T42|
|Men's High Jump - T63||Mariyappan Thangavelu||26||Sport Class: T42|
|Men's High Jump - T64||Praveen Kumar||18||Sport Class: T44|
|Men's Shot Put - F35||Arvind||28||Sport Class: F35|
|Men's Shot Put - F57||Soman Rana||38||Sport Class: F57|
|Men's Discus Throw - F52||Vinod Kumar||41||Sport Class: F52|
|Men's Discus Throw - F56||Yogesh Kathuniya||24||Sport Class: F56|
|Men's Javelin Throw - F41||Navdeep||20||Sport Class: F41|
|Men's Javelin Throw - F46||Ajeet Singh||27||Sport Class: F46|
|Men's Javelin Throw - F46||Devendra Jhajharia||40||Sport Class: F46|
|Men's Javelin Throw - F46||Sundar Singh Gurjar||25||Sport Class: F46|
|Men's Shot Put - F55*||Tek Chand||37||Sport Class: F55*|
|Men's Javelin Throw - F57||Ranjeet Bhati||24||Sport Class: F57|
|Men's Javelin Throw - F64||Sandeep Chaudhary||25||Sport Class: F44|
|Men's Javelin Throw - F64||Sumit Antil||23||Sport Class: F64|
|Men's Club Throw - F51||Dharambir||32||Sport Class: F51|
|Men's Club Throw - F51||Amit Kumar Saroha||36||Sport Class: F51|
|Women's 100m - T13||Simran Sharma||21||Sport Class: T13|
|Women's Shot Put - F34||Bhagyashri Madhavrao Jadhav||36||Sport Class: F34|
|Women's Club Throw - F51||Ekta Bhyan||36||Sport Class: F51|
|Women's Club Throw - F51||Kashish Lakra||17||Sport Class: F51|
One of the two sporting events (along with Taekwondo) to make its Paralympic debut in Tokyo, badminton will carry plenty of interest for Indian fans.
India have some of the brightest medal prospects like world No 1 Pramod Bhagat (SL3), world No 2 Krishna Nagar (SH6) and world No 2 Tarun Dhillon (SL4) in their ranks.
The experienced Parul Parmar and the young Palak Kohli (SL3-SU5) will carry high hopes of returning with a medal in their women’s doubles category.
The team also comprises Suhas L Yathiraj (SL4) and Manoj Sarkar (SL3), who qualified after the Badminton World Federation granted two bipartite quotas to the country. They are high-ranked players too.
“We have a very strong team representing the country at the Paralympics. Out of the six best players of the world selected for the Paralympics, two are Indians. Two from SL3 and two from SL4 category in men’’s singles,” coach Gaurav Khanna, a Dronacharya awardee, said recently.
“So I am pretty sure our players will bring medals and a realistic expectation will be a minimum of five medals. We are going to get five medals, including three golds, for the country.”
Additional information: Para Badminton world rankings
|Men's Singles SL3||Pramod Bhagat||33||Sport Class: SL3|
|Men's Singles SL3||Manoj Sarkar||31||Sport Class: SL3|
|Men's Singles SL4||Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj||38||Sport Class: SL4|
|Men's Singles SL4||Tarun Dhillon||27||Sport Class: SL4|
|Men's Singles SH6||Krishna Nagar||22||Sport Class: SH6|
|Women's Singles SL4||Parul Dalsukhbhai Parmar||48||Sport Class: SL3|
|Women's Singles SU5||Palak Kohli||19||Sport Class: SU5|
|Women's Doubles SL3-SU5||Palak Kohli||19||Sport Class: SU5|
|Parmar Parul Dalsukhbhai||48||Sport Class: SL3|
|Mixed Doubles SL3-SU5||Pramod Bhagat||33||Sport Class: SL3|
|Palak Kohli||19||Sport Class: SU5|
Prachi Yadav is set to be the first Indian to participate in Canoeing at the Paralympics. The sport was introduced in 2016 and returns for Tokyo 2020. India had no representation in the event in Rio and Prachi, who started off as a swimmer, will create history in Tokyo.
|Women's Va'a Single 200m - VL2||Prachi Yadav||26||Sport Class: VL2|
The Indian para powerlifting team couldn’t participate at the recent Fazza-Dubai 2021 Para Powerlifting World Cup owing to travel restrictions to the United Arab Emirates. But the World Para Powerlifting provided some relief as it conferred two bipartite quotas to the country to provide some relief.
Jaideep got the quota in men’s -65 kg category while Sakina Khatun, a bronze medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, will represent India in women’s -50 kg weight category. She would be the first Indian female powerlifter to take part at the Games, with eight different countries sending a female powerlifter for the first time to the Games.
India had sent one powerlifter, Farman Basha, to the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
|Men's -65 kg||Jai Deep||31||Sport Class: PWL|
|Women's -50 kg||Sakina Khatun||32||Sport Class: PWL|
A record contingent within a record contingent, a total of 10 para shooters will be in Tokyo representing India. That includes top pistol shooters Singhraj and Manish Narwal, while Avani Lekhara features in as many as four events.
This is the first time that 10 para shooters have achieved the required benchmark for the qualification. At Rio 2016 Paralympics, only one shooter – Naresh Sharma – had attained the qualifying berth in rifle events.
It’s a balanced team with young and senior players and many of them are coming out with excellent scores in the training. It has been a great journey for the entire team who have shown great results in the last few years. Many of them also have good temperament to pull off good results in the finals,” national chief coach JP Nautiyal told PCI.
“Everyone is working very hard and staying focused. And I am confident that they will produce good results. I am expecting at least four medals including gold from the team,” he added.
|P1 - Men's 10m Air Pistol SH1||Manish Narwal||19||Sport Class: SH1|
|P1 - Men's 10m Air Pistol SH1||Deepender Singh||27||Sport Class: SH1|
|P1 - Men's 10m Air Pistol SH1||Singhraj||39||Sport Class: SH1|
|P2 - Women's 10m Air Pistol SH1||Rubina Francis||22||Sport Class: SH1|
|P3 - Mixed 25m Pistol SH1||Akash||31||Sport Class: SH1|
|P3 - Mixed 25m Pistol SH1||Rahul Jakhar||35||Sport Class: SH1|
|P4 - Mixed 50m Pistol SH1||Akash||31||Sport Class: SH1|
|P4 - Mixed 50m Pistol SH1||Manish Narwal||19||Sport Class: SH1|
|P4 - Mixed 50m Pistol SH1||Singhraj||39||Sport Class: SH1|
|R1 - Men's 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1||Deepak||39||Sport Class: SH1|
|R1 - Men's 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1||Swaroop Mahavir Unhalkar||34||Sport Class: SH1|
|R2 - Women's 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1||Avani Lekhara||19||Sport Class: SH1|
|R3 - Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1||Sidhartha Babu||42||Sport Class: SH1|
|R3 - Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1||Deepak||39||Sport Class: SH1|
|R3 - Mixed 10m Air Rifle Prone SH1||Avani Lekhara||19||Sport Class: SH1|
|R6 - Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH1||Sidhartha Babu||42||Sport Class: SH1|
|R6 - Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH1||Deepak||39||Sport Class: SH1|
|R6 - Mixed 50m Rifle Prone SH1||Avani Lekhara||19||Sport Class: SH1|
|R7 - Men's 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1||Deepak||39||Sport Class: SH1|
|R8 - Women's 50m Rifle 3 Positions SH1||Avani Lekhara||19||Sport Class: SH1|
|Men's 100m Breaststroke - SB7||Suyash Narayan Jadhav||27||Sport Class: SB7,SM7,S7|
|Men's 50m Butterfly - S7||Suyash Narayan Jadhav||27||Sport Class: SB7,SM7,S7|
|Men's 50m Butterfly - S7||Mukundan Niranjan||26||Sport Class: S7|
|Men's 200m Individual Medley - SM7||Suyash Narayan Jadhav||27||Sport Class: SB7,SM7,S7|
|Women's Team - Classes 4-5||Bhavinaben Hasmukhbhai Patel||34||Sport Class: 4|
|Women's Team - Classes 4-5||Sonalben Manubhai Patel||33||Sport Class: 3|
|Women's Singles - Class 3||Sonalben Manubhai Patel||33||Sport Class: 3|
|Women's Singles - Class 4||Bhavinaben Hasmukhbhai Patel||34||Sport Class: 4|
|Women K44 -49kg||Aruna Tanwar||21||Sport Class: K43|
With PTI, Paralympic Committee of India and Paralympic.org inputs
More details about the Indian contingent will be available here during the course of the Games
Full list of Indian athletes at Paralympics
|Archery||Shyam Sundar Swami||24|
|Athletics||Varun Singh Bhati||26|
|Athletics||Sundar Singh Gurjar||25|
|Athletics||Bhagyashri Madhavrao Jadhav||36|
|Athletics||Amit Kumar Saroha||36|
|Badminton||Yathiraj Suhas Lalinakere||38|
|Badminton||Parul Dalsukhbhai Parmar||48|
|Canoe Sprint||Prachi Yadav||26|
|Shooting||Swaroop Mahavir Unhalkar||34|
|Swimming||Suyash Narayan Jadhav||27|
|Table tennis||Bhavinaben Hasmukhbhai Patel||34|
|Table tennis||Sonalben Manubhai Patel||33|