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Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia wins Gold at the Rio Paralympics
India’s Devendra Jhajharia cemented his legend status as he bettered his own world record to win the gold medal in the men’s javelin throw F46 event at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
Jhajharia also won the gold medal in the javelin event at the 2004 Athens Paralympics with a record throw of 62.15 metres, becoming only the second gold medallist at the Paralympics for India and the only Indian to win 2 paralympic gold medals. On Tuesday he improved upon this mark with a throw of 63.97 metres at the Olympic Stadium Engenhao.
Jhajharia set the new benchmark in his third attempt. The 36-year-old is currently ranked third in the world in this category and is likely to become World No.1 after his latest world record setting gold medal feat.
“If you have the willpower then nothing is impossible in this world,” Devendra said after his win. “I won my first Paralympics medal in 2004 and now after 12 years, it is just the dedication and hardwork which paid off.”
“The feeling can’t be expressed in words..it’s like a dream come true. Even if I broke the world record in 2004, but this is something very, very special. I felt like successfully completing a mission,” the World No.3 said.
A coach with the Gandhinagar Centre of the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Devendra, who last participated in the Paralympics 12 years ago as the F46 event did not feature in the 2008 and 2012 editions, admitted that maintaining focus wasn’t an easy task.
“Maintaining the same focus at 23 and now at the age of 35 has been quite tough. But getting another gold after a 12-year long wait only sweetens the feeling more. I trained for four hours daily (two hours in the morning and anotheR two in the evening) at the SAI centre,” he said.
“But when I moved to Finland for training, we worked for about seven hours every day. This also forced the authorities there to admit how hardworking Indians can be. So I can proudly say that this gold is the outcome of all that hardwork and dedication”
Devendra, who was electrocuted while climbing a tree when he was eight years old and had his left hand amputated, credited his brilliant performance to the government’s Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme, without which he said such results would not have been possible.
“I want to credit this win to the government’s TOP scheme, which is an unprecedented step by the current dispensation. With this kind of support, I am sure the country will produce many more Devendras,” India’s flag-bearer in the Rio Paralympics opening ceremony said.
The Rajasthan-born athlete was awarded the Arjuna award in 2004 and the Padma Shri in 2012, becoming the first Paralympian to be receiving the honour.
Despite all the recognition, very few in India are aware of his feats, but Devendra feels the perception towards para athletes is gradually changing for the better.
“Perception towards para athletes has gradually changed over the time. The credit goes to the brilliant performances of the athletes, not only at the Paralympics but also other tournaments like World Championships.”
Devendra competed in men’s javelin throw F46 event alongside fellow Indians Rinku Hooda and Sundar Singh Gurjar.
Rinku finished fifth with a personal best of 54.39m in six attempts, while Sundar Singh Gurjar didn’t start the event.
Devendra took India’s tally at this edition of the Paralympics to four – two golds, one silver and a bronze.
On Monday. Deepa Malik bagged a silver medal in the Women’s Shot Put F53 event, clinching the silver with a personal best throw of 4.61 metres. the excited 45-year-old, who is the oldest in the Indian contingent in Rio to win a medal, said that she wants to use the medal to support women with disabilities in India.
Mariyappan Thangavelu won the gold medal in the Men’s High Jump T42 category last Friday with fellow Indian Varun Bhati taking bronze in the same event.
India has bagged an overall total of 12 medals at the Paralympic Games, including four golds, four silvers and an equal number of bronze medals since 1968.