A strong camaraderie connects Indian stars Sandeep Chaudhary and Sumit Antil. They not only train together, but share the same interests, hang out together and wish the best of things for each other.
Chaudhary and Antil, both Javelin throwers and from Haryana train together at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. Chaudhary and Antil stole the show taking the one-two podium for India in the men’s Javelin F64 finals.
The evening became even more special for the world record holder Indian duo as they bettered their own world records in their categories en route booking their qualifying spots for India at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.
While Chaudhary bettered his own world record of 65.80m in F44 category, while Antil sent the spear to a distance of 62.88m also to improve his world record of 61.32m in F64 category achieved in Paris this August.
“We may be competitors in the field but we are like brothers. It doesn’t matter who wins gold and silver. The most important thing is that we both should get medals for India and the national anthem is played on podium,” Antil, who is junior to Chaudhary, told Paralympic Committee of India after the medal presentations on Saturday.
My heart was beating fast at the Podium
For Sumit, this was his first medal in a major championship and he wants to carry this momentum to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. “My next target is Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. So, all my focus to win a medal there.”
“My heart was beating fast when I stood on the podium. This is my first ever biggest medal ceremony. I was a bit emotional too. This is the thing for what we have trained so hard all these years. This feeling can’t be expressed,” added the 21-year-old, who indulged with wrestling before taking up Para Athletics after a motorbike accident in 2005.
Sumit however had higher expectations at the Championships and said he will get a new prosthetic leg to get a better leap in his throw.
“I expected to do even better than this. But still I am happy to win a medal. I have to change my prosthetic leg. I will go to Germany to get a new one. I had a blade one and there’s chances of injury.”
Asked if the duo will take some time off and celebrate the Worlds medal. “We will take couple of days off. But no celebration. The preparation for Tokyo 2020 is already on and camps will start soon,” Antil added.
Chaudhary, meanwhile, was satisfied to get his personal best, something he targeted at the Championships. “I came here with a promise to improve my distance. It was also a new world record in my category so I am really happy about it,” said the 23-year-old.
“I will try to continue the rhythm. The medal here is certainly a big motivation to continuing the process and keep doing the things we are doing now. Winning a medal at Tokyo 2020 is the target.”
PCI confident of eight medals
Congratulating the Indian duo for their scintillating shows, Paralympic Committee of India Interim President Gursharan Singh exuded confidence that the team will return home with more medals than London 2017.
The suspension on the PCI, he said, is unfortunate but that hasn’t affected the morale of the athletes and “they are pumped up and motivated to do well in this Championships.”
“It’s critical time for Para-athletes in view of the Tokyo 2020 Games. Although we are very happy to have the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs’ and Sports Authority of India’s support for the Paralympic Movement.”
“We are expecting at least eight medals here including more gold than last time (1 gold) and two world records. We have big hopes in Javelin and high jump that starts from today.”
Singh was also hopeful that things will only get better from here on for PCI and Paralympic Movement in India, adding that NPC India is hopeful it can bid for major championships like World and Asian Championships, and the Asian Youth Para Games in future.
“We have already placed a bid for IPC Gathering in 2020. And we are very much confident that we can deliver a great Championships in future,” he informed. “We hope that the suspension on PCI is lifted as per the best interests of Indian Parasport and its athletes.”