Javelin throwers lead athletics medal rush, Sumit wins gold with smashing world record show

Sumit Antil. Photo: Twitter/@Tokyo2020hi  

Debutant Sumit Antil smashed his own world record multiple times for the F64 class gold, while veteran Devendra Jhajharia’s F46 category silver cemented his status of being India’s greatest para-athlete as javelin throwers led the country’s track-and-field medal rush at the Paralympics here on Monday.

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Another javelin thrower Sundar Singh Gurjar picked up bronze in Jhajharia’s event, while discus thrower Yogesh Kathuniya’s F56 silver ensured that India made its presence felt across the podium and through the day.

The star of the day was 23-year-old Sumit as he went to the top of the podium with an astonishing throw of 68.55m in his fifth attempt, which was the best of the day by quite a distance and a new world record.

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

Hailing from Sonepat in Haryana, Sumit, who lost his left leg below the knee after a motorbike accident in 2015, bettered the previous world record of 62.88m, also set by him, five times on the day. 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.

In March this year, Sumit had competed against Olympic champion Neeraj Chopra in the Indian GP Series 3 where he finished seventh with a 66.43m effort. He won a silver in the at the 2019 World Championships in Dubai.

Earlier, Devendra clinched silver in the F46 category ahead of compatriot Sundar Singh Gurjar. The 40-year-old, who won gold in the 2004 and 2016 Games, pulled off a new personal best throw of 64.35m for silver.

Devendra had bettered his own world record (63.97m) but Sri Lankan Dinesh Priyan Herath Mudiyanselage set a new mark of 67.79m to take the honours.

“In sport and competition, these kind of things happen. There are always ups and downs. I did my best and bettered my personal best. But it so happened that it was his (Sri Lankan’s) day,” said Devendra.

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

Sundar had won gold in 2017 and 2019 World Para Athletics Championships and a silver in the 2018 Jakarta Para Asian Games.

He made it to 2016 Rio Paralympics but was disqualified for reporting late at the call room before the event. The bronze on Monday was nothing short of redemption for him.

The F46 classification is for athletes with arm deficiency, impaired muscle power or impaired passive range of movement in arms, with athletes competing in a standing position.

The 24-year-old Yogesh sent the disc to a best distance of 44.38m in his sixth and last attempt to clinch the silver in the F56 event.

Brazil’s Claudiney Batista dos Santos, the reigning World champion and world record holder, defended his title with a 45.59m while Cuba’s Leonardo Diaz Aldana (43.36m) took bronze.

Yogesh’s bronze in the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai had earned him a Tokyo berth.

In F56 classification, athletes have full arm and trunk muscle power. Pelvic stability is provided by some to full ability to press the knees together.

“Due to lockdown every stadium was closed. I couldn’t have a coach and I am still training without a coach. It was a great moment that I could win silver medal without a coach,” said Yogesh.

Another javelin thrower Sandeep Chaudhary (F64) finished fourth in the finals.

However, in a heartbreak for the contingent, discus thrower Vinod Kumar (F52) lost his bronze won on Sunday after he was found “ineligible” in reassessment of his disability classification

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 2:05:09 PM |

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