The Indian Paralympics contingent is set to return from Tokyo with a record medal haul, predicted Deepak Malik, the first woman from India to win a Paralympic medal, a day ahead of the beginning of the Paralympic Games on Tuesday. India are fielding their biggest ever contingent at these Games. 54 athletes are set to compete in nine sports — archery, athletics, badminton, canoeing, shooting, swimming, powerlifting, table tennis and taekwondo.
One of the biggest hopes from the Indian contingent is in para-badminton, which will be making its debut at the Tokyo Games. Pramod Bhagat, world No. 1 in the SL3 category (players with impairment in one/both legs and poor walking/running balance), is the most reputed player for India. At the 2019 Para World Championships, he had won two golds.
Krishna Nagar and Tarun Dhillon are also both ranked No. 2 in the SH6 (players with a short stature) and SL4 (impairment in one/both legs and minimal impairment in walking/running balance) categories respectively.
There are 10 shooters in India’s shooting contingent at the Paralympic Games. The brightest hope among them is 19-year-old Manish Narwal (SH1 – upper and/or lower limb impairment) in the men’s 10m air pistol event.
Devendra Jhajharia, a leading contender to be India’s greatest ever Paralympian, is set to lead the Athletics contingent one more time in Tokyo. The 40-year-old two-time Paralympic gold medallist (2004 & 2016) in javelin throw is the only Indian with two gold medals at the Paralympics. What suggests that he might be in the running for a third medal in the F46 category (for athletes with unilateral upper limb impairment) is that at the selection trials in July this year, Jhajharia breached his own world record with a throw of 65.71.
The #Paralympics games start tomorrow & my best wishes are with the entire 🇮🇳 contingent.
These women & men are athletes with extraordinary ability. They’ve overcome physical limitations through their passion, grit & commitment, and serve as an inspiration for us all.
Go India! pic.twitter.com/qE7GPgC00D
In the F64 event (for lower limb impairment) two strong Indian medal hopefuls are Sandeep Chaudhary and Sumit Antil.
Rio hero Mariyappan Thangavelu, the high jumper from Tamil Nadu, is another strong contender in the T63 event (for athletes using prosthesis above the knee amputation). Rio bronze medalist Varun Singh Bhati and Asian Para Games double medalist Sharad Kumar are two other strong contenders in the same category.