Sport holds a huge significance in a country’s progress, as it has the power to change lives. India has been sending a large contingent for the last three editions of the Summer Olympics. The Tokyo Olympics 2021 will see a 228-member strong contingent from India participate in 18 sporting events. India’s Olympic contingent for Tokyo 2020 includes 127 participants from 18 sports, including two alternate players and one reserve goalie in men’s and women’s hockey squads, respectively.
The ongoing Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan between 24th August and 5th September 2021, are helping showcase unbridled talent. Catch all the updates about Indian athletes in the action of the Paralympics.
India Won 19 Medals In Paralympics & We Couldn’t Be Prouder Of Our Athletes!
The Paralympics has seen individual athletes take up the role to bring glory to the country. The Indian contingent finished their Tokyo Paralympic Games 2020 campaign at the 24th Position with an all-time high by securing a total of 19 medals which includes 5 gold, 8 silver, and 6 bronze medals. Here is a list of wonderful athletes that have made the nation proud:
1. Avani Lekhara
In her debut Olympics, Avani Lekhara shot a new Paralympic record 249.6 in the women’s 10m air rifle shooting standing SH1 class final to win the gold medal. It also equalled the world record score in the category. The 19-year-old Avani Lekhara was in sublime form in the final and outshot defending Paralympic champion Cuiping Zhang of China and reigning world champion Iryna Shchetnik of Ukraine to win gold.
2. Bhavina Ben Patil
Bhavina Patel is the first Indian table tennis player to win a medal at the Para Games. Appearing in her debut Paralympics, Bhavina Patel upset reigning champion Borislava Peric of Serbia en route to the final. In the gold medal match, the Indian lost to world No. 1 Zhou Ying of China and settled for the silver medal.
3. Yogesh Kathuniya
Yogesh Kathuniya took home the silver medal with a best throw of 44.58m in the men’s discus throw F56 class. Yogesh was only beaten by Brazil’s Claudiney Batistia dos Santos, who threw a new Paralympic record of 45.59m to win the gold medal.
4. Devendra Jhajharia
Devendra Jhajharia became India’s most decorated Paralympian with his silver medal in the men’s javelin throw F46 class. It added to his two Paralympic gold medals at Athens 2004 and Rio 2016 Games. It took Devendra Jhajharia level with Joginder Singh Bedi, who also has three Paralympic medals – two bronze and silver. Devendra Jhajharia threw a new world record of 64.35m in the final, eclipsing his own previous record. However, Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Herath threw an even better 67.79m to pip him to gold with his own new world and Paralympic record.
5. Sundar Singh Gurjar
Sundar Singh Gurjar finished behind Devendra Jhajharia to win the bronze medal in the men’s javelin throw F46 category. Sundar Singh Gurjar threw a best attempt of 64.01m, also his season’s best, to win his first Paralympics medal.
6. Nishad Kumar
Nishad Kumar won a silver medal in the men’s high jump T47 with a best effort of 2.06m, equalling his own Asian record. The 22-year-old Indian was tied in second place with USA’s Dallas Wise, who also had the best jump of 2.06m. They both won silver. USA’s Roderick Townsend-Roberts won the gold with his world record-breaking attempt of 2.15m jump.
7. Manish Narwal
Indian shooter Manish Narwal won the gold medal in men’s 50m pistol SH1 at the Tokyo Paralympics with a solid display at the Asaka Shooting Range. After qualifying for the final as the seventh-best shooter, Manish Narwal upped the ante in the medal round and shot a Paralympic record-setting 218.2 to claim the top spot on the podium.
8. Pramod Bhagat
Gold in Badminton Men’s Singles. With badminton making its Paralympics debut in Tokyo, India’s Pramod Bhagat became the first-ever champion in the men’s singles SL3 category.
The three-time world champion para shuttler only dropped a single game in his four matches during the course of the tournament to win the historic gold medal. Pramod Bhagat beat Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell 21-14, 21-17 in the final.
9. Krishna Nagar
Gold in Badminton Men’s Singles. India’s Krishna Nagar wrapped up India’s campaign at the Tokyo Paralympics with a gold medal in men’s singles SH6 Badminton. Having not dropped a single game en route to the final, the Indian badminton player found himself up against Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai in the gold medal match. Krishna Nagar persevered to win it 21-17, 16-21, 21-17.
10. Sumit Antil
Gold in Men’s Javelin Throw. Sumit Antil thrice broke his own world record to win gold in the men’s javelin throw F64 category. The 23-year-old Sumit began with a 66.95m throw, beating his previous world record of 62.88m. In his second attempt, Sumit Antil once again made a new world record with a 68.08m throw. The new world record was finally recorded at 68.55m – which was Sumit Antil’s fifth attempt in the final – and gave him the top step on the podium.
11. Mariyappan Thangavelu
Mariyappan Thangavelu won his second Paralympic medal, a silver in the men’s high jump T42 class. After easily clearing the initial marks, defending champion Mariyappan Thangavelu took three attempts each to clear the 1.83m and 1.86m mark. He went for gold by attempting the 1.88m but could not jump past in three attempts, which gave him the silver medal.
12. Singhraj Adhana
Singhraj Adhana won India’s second shooting medal at the Paralympics with bronze in the men’s 10m air pistol SH1 class. The 39-year-old Singhraj Adhana shot 216.8 in the final to finish behind defending champion, China’s Chao Yang – who won gold with a Paralympic record 237.9 – and silver-medallist Xing Huang, also of China.
13. Praveen Kumar
Praveen Kumar won India’s eighth athletics medal – and fourth high jump medal – at the Tokyo Paralympics with silver in the men’s high jump T64 class. Praveen Kumar successfully cleared 2.07m in the final – a new personal best and new Asian record – to climb on the podium. He was only upstaged by world champion Jonathan Broom-Edwards of Great Britain, who cleared 2.10m to take the gold medal.
14. Suhas Yathiraj
Silver in Men’s Singles Badminton. Suhas Yathiraj’s brilliant campaign at the Tokyo Paralympics men’s singles badminton SL4 event ended in the final after a loss to the top seed and reigning world champion Lucas Mazur of France. The run, however, was enough to win him the silver medal.
15. Avani Lekhara
After becoming the first Indian woman to win Paralympic gold, Avani Lekhara went on to first Indian woman to win two Paralympics medals after she won a bronze in the women’s 50m rifle 3 positions SH1 category.
16. Harvinder Singh
Harvinder Singh won the men’s individual recurve – open archery bronze medal at Tokyo 2020 to enter the history books. The 30-year-old Haryana-born archer beat South Korea’s Kim Min Su 6-5 via shoot off in a thrilling bronze medal playoff match to win India their first-ever archery medal at the Paralympics.
17. Sharad Kumar
Bronze in Men’s High Jump. Joining compatriot Thangavelu on the podium was Sharad Kumar, who won bronze in the men’s high jump T42. Sharad Kumar cleared each of his first four marks, including the 1.83m, with his first jump to be assured of a medal. However, he was unable to clear the 1.86m with any of his three jumps and eventually took the bronze medal.
18. Singhraj Adhana
Right on Manish Narwal’s heels was compatriot Singhraj Adhana, who won the silver medal with a score of 216.7 in the final. Singhraj Adhana finished fourth in the qualifying round and picked up his game in the final, scoring 216.7 to finish ahead of RPC’s Sergey Malyshev, who won bronze with 196.8. This was Singhraj’s second shooting medal in Tokyo.
19. Manoj Sarkar
Bronze in Men’s Singles Badminton. India also secured the bronze medal in the men’s singles badminton SL3 category courtesy of Manoj Sarkar – incidentally also the only player to take a game off champion Pramod Bhagat at Tokyo. Manoj Sarkar finished behind Pramod Bhagat in Group A to advance to the semi-finals, where he lost to eventual silver medallist Daniel Bethell. In the bronze medal playoff match, Manoj Sarkar beat Japan’s Daisuke Fujihara 22-20, 21-13 to clinch his medal.
Women Power: The Indian Squad
Talking about women power, did you know that India will have its highest female contingent at the Tokyo Olympics, featuring 56 athletes? From starting with 0 female athletes at the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, India has made huge progress in the sporting field. It is only a matter of time before India establishes itself as a sporting powerhouse. A lot of India’s biggest medal hopes are women including:
- PV Sindhu (Badminton)
- Mary Kom (Boxing)
- Vinesh Phogat (Wrestling)
- Bhavani Devi (Fencing)
- Pranati Nayak (Gymnastics)
- Elavenil Valarivan (Shooting)
- Aditi Ashok (Golf)
- Muhammed Anas, VK Vismaya, Nirmal Noah, Jisna Mathew (Athletics) and more
Inspiring Stories Behind The Dreams
Women athletes have risen despite patriarchal attitudes towards women athletes and a view in the country that sport isn’t a viable career option! Apart from poverty and entrenched patriarchal attitudes against women’s participation in sports, observers say a lack of government investment creates a setback for aspiring athletes. But watch them squash all hardships and move ahead to win!
1. Indian Sprinter Revathi Veeramani
Revathi Veeramani was about six years old when both her parents died from separate illnesses, leaving her maternal grandmother to care for two orphaned young granddaughters. Arammal Veeramani, 76, raised the family by earning a daily wage doing odd jobs at farms and brick kilns. Money was always tight, but she made sure the girls were able to finish their education and chase their dreams, even if it meant Revathi had to run barefoot.
Today, Revathi is representing India in the 4x400m mixed relay at the Tokyo Olympics.
The 23-year-old sprinter is among 56 Indian women athletes vying for medal glory across 16 categories – the largest share of female talent India has ever fielded at the Summer Games.
2. Indian Boxer Mary Kom
Hailing from the northeast Indian state of Manipur, Mary Kom endured sexist comments during her teenage years for taking up a “manly” sport. Her father, a professional wrestler himself, said pursuing an “unladylike” sport would affect her chances of getting married.
And yet she wasn’t ready to give up on her dreams. Instead of feeling demotivated, she decided to take each challenge head-on.
The boxer, nicknamed ‘Magnificent Mary’, went on to earn five gold medals at the International Boxing Association’s World Championships, a bronze at the 2012 London Olympics, and five golds at the Asian Championships, among others. A movie was also made about Mary Kom’s exceptional life, starring Priyanka Chopra.
3. Indian Fencer Bhavani Devi
The first fencer to represent India at the Olympics, Bhavani Devi’s journey in the sport started with bamboo sticks as real fencing swords were too expensive. Devi’s mother pawned her jewellery to fund her fencing career. She has won two Asian Championships medals.
4. Indian Hockey Player Neha Goyal
Olympic hockey player Neha Goyal grew up in a shanty near a drain in Sonepat, a city in the northern state of Haryana, and worked alongside her mother at a local cycle factory straightening spokes for about Rs 2,000 a month. She comes from a toxic background and managed to have an incredible journey playing midfielder in the national team. Now her name is shining in the world!
Major Indian Female Contenders In Olympics 2021
Ace weightlifter Saikhom Mirabai Chanu opened India’s medals tally on 24th July 2021, as she bagged the Silver in the Women’s 49kg category here at Tokyo International Forum. Chanu lifted a total of 202 kg (87kg in snatch and 115kg in clean and jerk) during her four successful attempts across the competition.
PV Sindhu has set the bar really high, she became the most successful women Olympic athlete for India. Sindhu beat China’s He Bingjiao 21-13. 21-15 to win the Bronze medal. The reigning world champion Sindhu is now only the fourth women shuttler to medal in back-to-back Olympics. Sindhu won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics she played against Carolina Marin in the final. Saina Nehwal, who became the first Indian shuttler to bring an Olympic medal back home in 2012, failed to qualify this time.
3. Women’s Hockey
The India women’s hockey team on 2nd August 2021 created history by reaching the semifinals at the Olympics for the first time ever. India stunned Australia 1-0 thanks to Gurjit Kaur’s goal in the second quarter and reached the semifinals at Tokyo 2020. Celebrities and fans alike took to social media as congratulatory messages poured in for the Indian women’s team, led by Rani Rampal.
4. Discus Throw
Kamalpreet Kaur did not disappoint on her Olympic debut, qualifying for the women’s discus throw final comfortably with a 64m effort in Tokyo on 31st August 2021. The 25-year-old National record holder is the first Indian in athletics to qualify for the final in Tokyo. Kamalpreet became the 11th Indian, and the second woman discus thrower, to qualify for an Olympic final. Finishing 6th in the final of the women’s event, Kamalpreet Kaur’s discus throw feat at the Olympics is yet another feather in India’s cap. Here’s all you need to know.
Indian boxer Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) advanced to the quarterfinals in her debut Olympic appearance, defeating German veteran Nadine Apetz in a closely-fought last-16 stage bout. On August 4 2021, Lovlina won the Bronze medal, after losing to Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli 0-5 in the 69kg semifinal at the Tokyo Olympics. This is an excellent achievement for a debutant at the Olympics! This is India’s third medal at this year’s Olympics, after Mirabai Chanu’s silver in weightlifting and P.V. Sindhu’s bronze in badminton.
Pugilist Pooja Rani qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after showcasing brilliant performance at the Asian Elite Boxing Championships in Dubai this year. Rani had won her maiden Asian boxing gold in 2019 in the 81kg event but the competition did not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
An unprecedented nine Indian boxers will be taking the ring at the Tokyo Olympics, but there is only one Mary Kom. The six-time world champion is one of the two flag-bearers of the Indian contingent. Mary was knocked out of the Tokyo Games after she fell 2-3 on a split decision against Colombia’s Valencia Victoria. It was a bitter-sweet moment for Indians who were expecting their star to move into the quarterfinals and stay on course for her second Olympic medal.
In the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Likmabam Sushila will be representing the country as the first Indian female Judoka. She is the only Indian to have qualified for the event this year. In the Commonwealth Games, 2014 at Glasgow, she won the silver medal in the women’s 48 kg judo.
Bhavani Devi became the first Indian athlete to ever qualify for Fencing at the Summer Olympic Games. The 27-year-old will compete in the saber event, having previously won two Asian Championships medals. She is ranked 42nd globally, and it is a proud moment for the country to have representation in a sport not well-known in India. Indian fencer Bhavani Devi put up an inspired show on her Olympic debut but lost in the second round of the women’s individual sabre at Tokyo 2020 on 26th July 2021. It nevertheless marked a historic day as India made their debut in fencing in the Olympics, a discipline that has featured at the Summer Games since 1896.
India’s women’s doubles pair of Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina have also qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The 34-year-old Mirza is all set to become the first female athlete to represent India at the four Olympics, while it will be a debut for 28-year-old Raina at the showpiece event.
Deepika Kumari and Pravin Jadhav‘s mixed team stormed into the quarterfinals after winning the first match against Chinese Taipei but failed to overcome her Korean opponent in the quarterfinals.
Women players constitute a substantial part of the squad. These women have gone beyond all expectations to make India proud! We should all stand by them and support them for their exceptional achievements and hard work!