India expected to win 15 medals in Tokyo Paralympics Eyes of javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia India participated in Paralympics for the first time in 1972 after winning gold for the third time.
After its best ever performance in the Olympics, India is also eyeing its best performance in the Paralympic Games starting on Tuesday. It is expected that the team of 54 players can get the country a double digit medal for the first time in this prestigious competition.
Rio 2016 Paralympics gold medalist star javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia and high jump star Mariyappan Thangavelu will lead India’s biggest contingent ever. India expects at least 15 medals including five gold medals in these games.
Many countries decided to withdraw due to Corona
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paralympics are being held amidst strict safety and health regulations. India will compete in nine sports in the Paralympics. However, some countries decided to withdraw from the Paralympics due to the pandemic.
It would not be unreasonable to expect phenomenal success from Indian players as at least four Indians are ranked No. 1 in the world rankings while six players are ranked second in the world. Also around 10 players have a world ranking of three.
India has won 12 medals so far
India participated in the Paralympics for the first time in 1972 and since then has won a total of 12 medals in these Games. If India succeeds as expected, then this time it can make it to the top 25 in the medal tally. India finished 43rd at the 2016 Rio Paralympics with two gold, one silver and one bronze medals.
The government has given ample facilities to the para players and many players are practicing in the facilities of Sports Authority of India in different parts of the country. In such a situation, it is expected that the para players will be able to carry forward the success of the Olympics which concluded on August 8.
Devendra Jhajharia looking for golden hat-trick
Jhajharia, who lost his left hand due to electrocution in childhood, is a strong contender for a hat-trick of gold medal at the age of 40. He has won gold medals in the F-46 category in 2004 and 2016 and is the current world record holder.
Mariyappan will be the flag bearer of India
Mariyappan, who was permanently disabled at the age of five after being crushed by a bus with his leg below the knee, is another Indian para player who will go down to defend the gold medal he won in the T-63 high jump in 2016. He is currently the number two player in the world.
He will also be the country’s flag bearer during the opening ceremony on Tuesday. World champion Sandeep Choudhary (F-64 javelin throw) is the third contender for a gold medal in the 24-member para athletics team. He is the world number one player and world record holder.
The other medal contenders in para athletics are defending world champion Sundar Singh Gurjar and Ajit Singh (both F-46) and Navdeep Singh (F-41). All three are javelin throwers. The Paralympic Committee of India expects at least 10 medals from para players.
Para players are placed in different categories based on the type and extent of their disability. This gives them an opportunity to compete against players with similar disabilities.
Badminton will make its Paralympic debut during the Tokyo Games and India has good chances of winning a medal. World number one and multiple-time world champion Pramod Bhagat is a strong contender for gold in the men’s SL3 category.
World number two Krishna Nagar (SH6) and Tarun Dhillon (SL4) are also expected to do well. Two-time former world champions Parul Parmar and young Palak Kohli (SL3-SU5) are the medal hopes in the women’s section.
Medal hopes from shooters and archers
India also expects medals from its shooters and archers. In archery, India will be represented by Rakesh Kumar and Shyam Sundar (compound), Vivek Chikara and Harvinder Singh (recurve) and women archer Jyoti Baliyan (compound individual and mixed event).
Apart from this, Indian players will also participate in Para Canoeing, Para Swimming, Para Powerlifting, Para Table Tennis and Para Taekwondo. Para table tennis players Bhavina Patel and Sonal Patel will start the Indian campaign on August 25. Both of them are not strong contenders for medals and hence India’s first medal hope is on Friday when the Para Archery events begin. India’s medal tally is expected to increase with the start of Para Athletics on Saturday.
King Naruhito of Japan will announce the start of the Paralympics
King Naruhito of Japan will announce the start of the Paralympics. Tokyo and other parts of Japan have implemented stringent health and safety regulations in view of the rise in COVID-19 cases. Like the Olympics, only six officials will be allowed to participate in the Paralympics opening ceremony on Tuesday. The Indian contingent will have only five players, including flag bearer Mariyappan.
Apart from this, Vinod Kumar of discus throw, Tekchand of javelin throw and powerlifters Jaideep and Sakina Khatoon will take part in the opening ceremony. The Indian contingent will be the 17th team after Iran to enter the Olympic Stadium.
Spectators are not allowed to enter the stadium
During the Paralympics, spectators like the Olympic will not be allowed to enter the stadium. Organizers, however, are trying to allow children to enter the stadium at some places. Around 4500 athletes from 163 countries will compete in 540 events across 22 sports during the Paralympics.