Tokyo, on Sunday, doused the Olympic flame, bid adieu and marked the conclusion of the Summer Games amid Covid. Now, the stage is set for the Paralympics to kick start from August 24. The Tokyo Paralympics will comprise 593 events across 22 disciplines to be hosted across 21 venues. India will be sending its largest contingent ever with 54 para-athletes to compete in nine sporting disciplines. Mariyappan Thangavelu, 2016 Rio Paralympics gold medalist in the men’s high jump will be India’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremony.
In the long road, India is moving ahead with sending a larger contingent for the Paralympics. Previously, a large contingent was sent to Rio 2016 — where 19 athletes represented the country in five sports. The event was a big hit with India’s best-ever performance at the Summer Paralympics. India contingent secured a total of four medals — two golds, one silver and one bronze. The country awaits what the 2020 Paralympics holds for India.
The athletes for Tokyo 2020 were selected during a two-day trial at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium by the Paralympic Committee of India’s (PCI) selection committee, chaired by the president and Rio 2016 silver medallist Deepa Malik.
“We had to make some really bold decisions with regards to the welfare of the athletes. There was a difficult time in getting the trials done, to be able to make the SOP; we want to thank the Sports Authority of India. Secretary sir personally overlooked the arrangements at the JLN Stadium,” Deepa told ANI.
The team representing India comprises the following Para athletes:
Men: Devendra Jhajharia, Ajeet Singh and Sundar Singh Gurjar (javelin F-46); Sandeep Chaudhary and Sumit (javelin F-64); Mariyappan Thangavelu, Sharad Kumar and Varun Singh Bhatti (high jump T-63); Amit Kumar and Dharambir (club throw F-51); Nishad Kumar and Ram Pal (high jump T-47); Sonam Rana (shot put F-57), Navdeep (javelin F-41), Praveen Kumar (high jump T-64), Yogesh Kathuniya (discus throw F-56), Vinod Kumar (discus throw F-56), Ranjeet Bhati (javelin F-57), Arvind (shot put F-35), Tek Chand (javelin F-54).
Women: Ekta Bhyan and Kashish Lakra (club throw F-51); Bhagyashri Jadhav (shot put F-34), Simran (100m T-13).
To provide financial assistance to Paralympic athletes, the Public sector Indian Bank stated that it has signed a year-long MOU with the Paralympic Committee of India and has become one of the Banking Partners ahead of the Paralympic Games, Tokyo 2020. The association will help Paralympic athletes to prepare for the celebrated sporting events on the domestic as well as on a global level.
“We are delighted to have partnered with PCI to work towards promoting the Paralympic ecosystem and making resources available for differently-abled athletes in our nation. Even though the Paralympic movement is at a nascent stage in India, several young and talented athletes have been training rigorously to represent India in an international arena, Padmaja Chunduru, MD&CEO, Indian Bank, said.
“It is our belief that this initiative will empower many athletes to take up sports as a career without experiencing any dearth of resources. At Indian Bank, we have always strived to maintain an inclusive environment and supported employees who have exhibited a flair for sports,” she added.
PCI President, Deepa Malik has been running a Twitter campaign #Praise4Para to draw attention and awareness towards the upcoming games.