The Tokyo Paralympics have started and with its biggest-ever contingent gracing the Games, India is hoping for a performance never seen before. Now, as our para-athletes fight for the podium finish, let us have a look at the medal winners from the previous editions of the mega-event, some of whom are participating and hoping to win for the country, again.
1. Murlikant Petkar
Murlikant was the first para-athlete from the country to win at the Paralympics. He won a gold medal at the men’s 50m freestyle 3 swimming event in Heidelberg in 1972. He was a war veteran, who used to be a boxer but became a swimmer after losing an arm at the line of duty.
In 2018, he received Padma Shri.
Meet #PadmaShri awardee Murlikant Petkar – a war-hero who became India’s first Paralympic Gold medalist, winning in the 50 metre freestyle swimming event – a true #JaanbaazJalSipahi #UnsungHeroes pic.twitter.com/2rNUYlWZT6— PIB India (@PIB_India) January 25, 2018
2. Bhimrao Kesarkar
He won a silver medal at the men’s javelin throw L6 event in 1984. He also took part in the men’s 100m freestyle L6 event but could not register success there.
2 medals for India at the same event in Olympics:— bharath seervi (@bharathseervi) September 10, 2016
1984: Bhimrao Kesarkar (Silver) and Joginder Singh Bedi… https://t.co/2WodHXOCcn
3. Joginder Singh Bedi
He grabbed a silver medal at the men’s shot put L6 event in Stoke Mandeville & New York, 1984. Joginder also won a bronze medal at the men’s javelin throw L6 in the same edition of the Games, with a 34.18m throw.
Truly an all-rounder, Joginder then went on to win another bronze at the men’s discus throw L6 event, making a very special place for himself in India’s sporting history.
Paralympian Joginder Singh Bedi won three medals at the 1984 Games, and across three different sports – the Men’s L6 Shot Put, Javelin Throw and Discus Throw!#BetterEveryday🇮🇳 #Paralympics #TeamIndia #DigitSpinner pic.twitter.com/KcmIZTp2BY— JSW Sports (@jswsports) August 19, 2021
4. Devendra Jhajharia
Devendra won India its first gold medal at Athens in 2004. He finished on top at the men’s javelin throw F44/46 event. He recorded a distance of 62.15m, which became a world record at the time. This was India’s first medal since 1984 and was deservingly much celebrated.
Devendra became the first Indian para-athlete to win two individual gold medals at the Games with his top position finish at the Rio Paralympics 2016. He was honoured with the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna for the same.
With his participation this year, he will be looking to script history again by winning his third gold.
Devendra Jhajharia (F-46 Javelin)— BreezyScroll (@BreezyScroll) August 24, 2021
Devendra has won two gold medals at the Paralympics – Athens 2004 and Rio 2016
He is the first Indian Paralympics player to win two gold medals at the Paralympics
Read- https://t.co/ZXO5A9UUnR pic.twitter.com/LE8DQaGAoP
5. Rajinder Singh Rahelu
Rahelu won bronze at the men’s powerlifting 56 kilograms event in Athens 2004. He lifted 157.5 kilograms and was conferred with Arjuna Award in 2005.
Rajinder Singh Rahelu contracted Polio when he was just 8 months old— Aniket Mishra (@aniketmishra299) August 11, 2021
Growing up with infantile paralysis was tough but powerlifting gave him a new lease- within 2 years of picking the sport, he broke the national record
His🥉at 2004 Paralympics would always be remembered fondly pic.twitter.com/me67XJ8xcI
6. Girish N Gowda
Gowda was India’s lone winner at the London Paralympics, 2012. He won a silver medal at the men’s high jump F42 event. He was conferred with Padma Shri in 2013 and Arjuna Award in 2014.
Met Mr. Girish N Gowda, India’s proud Paralympic High Jumper at our office today. You are an inspiration to all.— Dr. Ashwathnarayan C. N. (@drashwathcn) February 17, 2018
We discussed various issues including improving facilities and infrastructure for Paralympics sports in #Bengaluru and #Karnataka. pic.twitter.com/zM0lzxGn6k
7. Mariyappan Thangavelu
Another gold medalist from India, Thangavelu won the men’s high jump F42 event at the Rio Paralympics, 2016. He was honoured with Major Dyan Chand Khel Ratna award, along with Padma Shri and the Arjuna award. He was supposed to be India’s flagbearer for this edition of the Paralympics but he came in contact with a Covid-positive person and was replaced for the same reason.
Mariyappan Thangavelu was just 5 when a bus hit him leading to the permanent disability- he didn’t let that deter his sporting ambitions though, and won gold at the 2016 Rio Paralympics— Aniket Mishra (@aniketmishra299) August 23, 2021
Tomorrow, he will lead the Indian contingent out at the opening ceremony of #TokyoParalympics pic.twitter.com/c1tW8Q4sSC
8. Varun Singh Bhati
Varun won a bronze medal at the men’s high jump F42 event, in Rio, 2016. This was the same event where Thangavelu won gold. He was given the Arjuna award in 2018. Bhati is one of India’s biggest medal contenders this time around, as he makes a comeback after injury and covid infection.
9. Deepa Malik
Deepa became the first Indian para-athlete to win a medal at the Games. She won a silver medal at the women’s shot put F53 event and has been awarded Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, and Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award for her contribution to Indian sports.
During the 2010 CWG, Deepa Malik learnt how to throw a javelin from a friend. Less than 2 months later, she won a medal at the Asian Para Games— Aniket Mishra (@aniketmishra299) August 24, 2021
When Javelin was replaced by Shot Put for her category at the Rio Paralympics, she took that up and won silver
What an inspiration🙏 pic.twitter.com/lZzOeZstF5
With this, we want to congratulate all our athletes representing the country and hope that they come back with medals.