A strong 23-member Indian team, led by reigning world champion Sundar Singh Gurjar, will be out to secure Tokyo 2020 Paralympics qualification slots when the Dubai 2019 World Para Athletics Championships kicks off here on Thursday.
The Indian team that arrived here last evening did their first official training at the Dubai Club for People of Determination Stadium and are excited competing here.
For India, Javelin and High jump are the two events that they are hoping to win some medals.
Team India coach Naval Singh said his athletes are eager to go out in confident targeting eight medals. At the London 2017 World Championships, India finished in 34th place with five medals including just one gold.
“This time, the Indian team is stronger and we are targeting more medals than last time including four gold. WE have six javelin throwers who are also medal contenders. We have some experienced athletes like Sandeep and Sundar, while Naval is a junior world champion. The team is confident to perform,” the coach told Paralympic Committee of India.
Gurjar, who is recovering from a right shoulder injury that he picked up at a training, is now raring to defend his Javelin F46 gold medal that he won in London 2017. He said:
World record-holders Sandeep Chaudhary and Sumit, who shattered two world records in men’s F40-46 and 61-64 javelin throw category at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Grosseto, Italy in June, will be the other two athletes to watch out for in the Javelin events.
Chaudhary, who is an Asian Para Games champion, said: “The team have prepared well and we are looking forward to the event. This is the last event in 2019, and everyone will be trying to give 100 per cent considering it’s a Tokyo 2020 qualification event. I am looking to get my personal best. The wind, however, will be a factor at the Venue.”
For the 21-year-old Sumit, he is aiming to make his debut World Championships a special one. “I am aiming to break the world record again. Though I don’t have much experience, but I am confident to do well. I am feeling positive.”
Among others, Asian Para Games champion Ekta Bhyan, who will start her campaign only on the November 11, promised to add to the medals tally at the Worlds this time. Rio 2016 gold-medallist Thangavelu Mariyappan and London 2017 silver medallist Sharad Kumar will be in action in the men’s high jump T63 finals on Nov. 14.
The Dubai 2019 will start with the qualification rounds on Thursday morning while the finals are scheduled from 1900 hours local time after the opening ceremony 1800 hours.
Among the Indians competing in the finals on an opening day are Ajitkumar Amrutlal Panchal and Vinod Kumar, both competing in men’s discus throw F52 event.
The Championships that will run from November 7 to 15 has already broken records even before it started with the largest number of 1400 athletes from 118 nations in the history of the event. A total of 24 broadcasters from all continents will receive coverage of Dubai 2019 reaching 88 countries – one more than London 2017.
Russia, who is competing after three years following the doping ban in 2016, will field the largest number of 75 athletes, followed by China (73) and USA (62). Among the top names to compete are: Paralympic and World champions Zhou Hangzhuan (T53), Abdellatif Baka (T13), Marcus Rehm (T44), Marcel Hug (T54), Vanessa Low (T42) and Omara Durand (T12) among others.
The hosts, UAE, will have 18 players including Paralympic medallists Mohammed Al Hammedi and Sara Al Senaani.