Sometimes I feel like due to social media, our memories are now so short-lived, probably you would agree with that too. A week ago, the internet went crazy over Neeraj Chopra’s Olympic Gold medal as it should be, but one thought that instantly occupied my mind — “ I hope we don’t forget this golden boy soon.” We don’t forget but perhaps don’t celebrate them, cheer them enough unless they get us another medal. However, this thought is instantly governed by another thought of how we as an audience are partial to our Olympic athletes, where we go over the board to celebrate them, and don’t give enough attention, encouragement to our para-athletes.
So, today, I am going to talk about one such player, a player with a golden arm — but just one arm, who secured us not just one but two gold, whom we have forgotten in the lapse of time. Devendra Jhajaria — his name again hit the much-needed limelight after Neeraj Chopra secured his first medal.
The Glorious Record
Jhajharia is the only Indian paralympic athlete with two gold medals to his name in athletics (men’s javelin throw). He won his first gold in 2004 at the Athens Paralympics and his second in 2016 at the Rio Paralympics. He holds the record for Javelin throw at 62.15m and is also the recipient of the Padma Shri, the first para-athlete to get the honour. Jhajharia is all set for this next triumph in the upcoming Paralympics.
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Jhajharia was born in a family of farmers in Rajasthan’s Churu district. His life took a drastic turn at the minor age of 8 years old. While playing hide and seek, he climbed a tree and accidentally touched a live wire carrying 11,000 volts of current. The young boy fell to the ground unconscious. Miraculously, the doctors were able to save his life, but his left arm was amputated right away.
If you read, write the stories of the person with disabilities, you would learn one thing — the undying spirit of humans. Jhajharia did not let the incident fluster him. He not only overcame the challenges but never let his disability wholly define him, instead like any true sportsman, his spirit remained undeterred. He resolved to take up a sport that would “take only one arm”. Despite facing contempt and criticism, he didn’t bog down and took up javelin throw. He made his first javelin with bamboo.
“You can try and imagine how a parent would feel when someone says stuff like that about their own child. But my parents never let me feel the heat… I was striving to not make myself appear weak to the world. And the only way to achieve it was to succeed and be a champion. To be a champion, you had to be a sportsman. So, I started focusing more on the sport. In Class 10, I started practising every day and soon became the district champion in the open category. I kept on winning medals at inter-college, district, and state events,” Jhajharia said in an interview with The Hindu.
Eyeing his third Gold
As Paralympics are set to kickstart from August 24, Jhajharia will be eyeing his third gold in the upcoming Paralympics in Tokyo. Facing hardships, overcoming life challenges, Devendra Jhajharia has shown unshakeable determination and is one of the greatest Indian Paralympians. In the upcoming Paralympics, he will aim to carve his name in history as the GOAT in men’s para-javelin throw.