Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday felicitated the 17medal-winners from the Tokyo Paralympics, saying he expects them to shatter more records in the 2024 Paris Games after raising the bar with a stupendous performance this time.
The Indian para-athletes registered their best-ever performance in the Tokyo Games by winning an unprecedented 19 medals, including five gold, eight silver and six bronze. Shooters Avani Lekhara (gold and bronze) and Singhraj Adana (silver and bronze) were the ones to finish on the podium twice.
"It was my dream to win a medal for my country and I had trained hard for it. Has it sunk in? Not yet. I am so happy and grateful," said the 19-year-old Lekhara, who became the first Indian woman to win Paralympic gold.
Thakur lauded her and all others who finished on the podium, presenting them with mementos to honour their feats.
"I recall in the 2016 Paralympics, the size of the Indian contingent was 19, while this year the country has won as many as 19 medals. You have shown us that the human spirit is the most powerful of all," Thakur said at the function where the medal-winners were given a standing ovation.
"Our medal tally has increased by about five times. For the first time, we have won medals in table tennis and archery competed for the first time in canoeing and powerlifting. We equalled two world records and we broke even more. India's para-athletes delivered a perfect podium finish," he added.
He offered the government's full support to the athletes.
"The government's approach in extending support to athletes for international competitions has undergone a transformational change. The government will continue to support India's Paralympians with facilities and funding so that they may continue to excel internationally. We'd like to encourage more regional and national tournaments for our Paralympians so they can regularly compete and hone their skills," said Thakur.
The function was also attended by Thakur's predecessor and current Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju and Minister of State for Sports Nisith Pramanik among others.
Also present on the occasion were Sports Secretary Ravi Mittal, Sports Authority of India Director General Sandip Pradhan, Paralympic Committee of India President Deepa Malik. Malik thanked the government for its constant support.
India had sent a 54-strong contingent to the Games, the country's biggest ever.