At the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, India won a total of four medals. It was their best-ever medal haul in the history of the Games (same count as 1984, but two gold medals), taking their overall tally to 12.

On August 30, 2021, at the Tokyo Paralympics, India won five medals in a single day, improving their best ever count in the space of a few hours. It took India’s count to seven at the end of the day, which has since increased as well.

It was, without a doubt, one of the most glorious days in the history of Indian sport.

The debutant duo of javelin thrower Sumit Antil and shooter Avani Lekhara shone the brightest with gold medals. There was a silver each for veteran Devendra Jhajharia (javelin) and youngster Yogesh Kathuniya (discus), along with a bronze for Sundar Singh Gurjar (javelin), a redemption story from Rio.

Also read: Devendra Jhajharia has his moment in the sun

Here’s a closer look at India’s five Paralypic medals on an epic day in Tokyo:

Avani Lekhara

It all started at 05.00 am Indian Standard Time. After a slow in the qualification where her first two shots were below 10, she recovered well enough to reach the final. And soon after, Lekhara became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Paralympics, firing her way to the top of the podium in the R-2 women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 event.

Lekhara, who sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012, shot a world record equalling total of 249.6 in the final, which will also now be the new Paralympic record.

The 19-year-old, appearing in her first Paralympics, gave India their first ever shooting medal of the Games. She edged out 2016 Rio Games gold-medallist Cuiping Zhang of China who bagged silver. While world No 1 and reigning world campion Iryna Shchetnik of Ukraine took home the bronze medal.

Lekhara had finished fourth in the last World Championship in 2019 but won a silver in the para-shooting World Cup in Al Ain in March. Ranked fifth in the world, she consistently shot 10s in both the competition stages. She was set to break the world record but two 9.9s towards the end cost her the mark.

“I can’t describe this feeling, I’m feeling like I’m on top of the world. It’s unexplainable,” Lekhara said later. “I’m so happy I could be the one to contribute. Hopefully there’s a lot of medals more to come. I was just saying one thing, that I have to take one shot at a time. Nothing else matters now, just take one shot at a time and just finish it.”

Meet shooter Avani Lekhara, the first Indian woman to win a Paralympics gold

Sumit Antil

And bookending a day the started with the shooting gold, there was Sumit who set a new world record thrice in one night for the F64 class gold. The 23-year-old made his way to the top of the podium with an astonishing fifth attempt of 68.55m, which was the best of the day by quite a distance and the latest of his world record throws.

Hailing from Sonepat in Haryana, Sumit, who lost his left leg 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, effectively five times on the day. His series of throws read: 66.95, 68.08, 65.27, 66.71, 68.55.

“In training, I have thrown 71m, 72m, many times. I don’t know what happened in my competition. One thing is for sure, in the future I will throw much better,” Sumit said later.

Meet Sumit Antil, wrestler-turned-javelin thrower who never gave up on his dreams

Yogesh Kathuniya

Kathuniya won silver in the men’s discus throw F56 event (seated). The 24-year-old threw a best distance of 44.38m in his sixth and last attempt to finish second. He is the world No 2 in the event with a personal best of 44.47m.

“I’m extremely happy to win the silver medal, it was my debut Games but I’m happy to win the medal. I registered few foul attempts but I came back to win the medal. I want to thank SAI, PCI and a big thank you to my mother as she supported me throughout my journey,” said Kathuniya after winning the silver medal in Tokyo.

Devendra Jhajharia

Jhajharia won a record third Paralympic medal, a silver in men’s javelin throw F46.

The 40-year-old Jhajahria, already India’s greatest Paralympian after winning gold medals at Athens 2004 and Rio 2016, pulled off a new personal best throw of 64.35m for the silver.

He bettered his own earlier world record (63.97m) but gold winner Sri Lankan Dinesh Priyan Herath Mudiyanselage (67.79m), had broken the world record a while earlier. That throw was too good for the entire field.

“Of course, this medal belongs to the people of the country but I also want to dedicate this to my late father who had wanted me to win another medal in the Paralympics,” said Jhajharia.

“I would not be here if it was not for my father’s efforts. It was him who pushed me to train hard and win another medal. I am happy that today I have fulfilled his dream.”

Sundar Singh Gurjar

While Jhajharia took silver in the men’s javelin throw F46, Gurjar won bronze in the same event.

The 25-year-old, who lost his left hand in 2015 after a metal sheet fell on him at his friend’s house, was third in the event with a best effort of 64.01m.

Gurjar had won gold in the 2017 and 2019 World Para Athletics Championships. He had also won a silver in the 2018 Jakarta Para Asian Games. He had heartbreak in Rio as he missed the event due to a failure to report on time, but he made up for it with a medal in his first official appearance.

“I am elated to win this medal. I want to thank my coach Mahavir Saini who trained me from 2009 to 2021 and stood by me in bad times. I also want to thank my family, SAI and PCI for support and PM Modi for motivation,” said Gurjar.

During all the medals India won there was also the heartbreak of medal lost as the decision came on Vinod Kumar’s bronze medal in F52 discus throw, that was put on hold later on Sunday. The decision went against the Indian contingent in a setback for the 41-year-old.

It could have been an even better day for India but they narrowly missed out on two medals. In the R-1 men’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 event, Mahavir Swaroop Unhalkar finished fourth after a superb performance where he was looking good for a podium finish. But at the very end, he slipped out of top of three. And later on Sandeep Chaudhary finished fourth in the men’s Javelin Throw F64, event with a best attempt of 62.2m, not far away from a bronze.

All in all, 30 August 2021 will certainly live long in the memory of Indian sport fans. It is without doubt, as things stand, the single greatest day of results at the Paralympic Games for India.