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.

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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.

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.

With this, we want to congratulate all our athletes representing the country and hope that they come back with medals.