Two-time Asian Para Games champion Sharad Kumar cleared the bar with season’s best 1.83 metres to clinch the silver besides booking Tokyo 2020 slots along with Mariyappan Thangavelu at the Dubai 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships on Thursday.
Mariyappan, a Rio 2016 gold medallist, settled for bronze with season’s best performance of 1.80 metres which was 0.6 metres lower than the champion Sam Grewe’s Championship record of 1.86 metres.
Sharad, the former World No 1, stayed in the lead initially clearing the bar at 1.67m until 1.83m before Grewe surged ahead with 1.86m to be on top. Sharad told the Paralympic Committee of India:
“It has been a hard time. I have been playing continuously. Now I need a break. I am going on a holiday from here with my friends who have come down to cheer for me from London,” said the 27-year-old, who has completed his Masters in International Relations from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
Mariyappan, who failed to clear 1.83 metres in his last attempt, later admitted that he couldn’t perform his best. “My body didn’t open up. I didn’t get my best one here. The conditions were a little cold in the evening. I hope I can do better in Tokyo 2020 and live up to the expectations of my coach, Satyanarayana.”
Also performing in the same event was Ramsingh Padhiya, who settled for fifth place with an effort of 1.77 metres.
Earlier in the day, Lal Vinay Kumar, the Asian Para Games bronze medallist, claimed bronze in men’s 400m T44 event, and a Tokyo 2020 spot, finishing the crossing line in 55.49 seconds.
After the penultimate day’s action, India has nine medals — two gold, two silver and five bronze — from the Championships. China leads the medal tally with 53 medals including 23 gold medals, followed by Brazil (37) and Great Britain (24).
London 2017 world records surpassed
Meanwhile, world records continued to fall as seven world records were broken on the day making the total as 44 with one more day still to go, surpassing the London 2017 Worlds mark of 34 world records.
“What everyone is talking is how many young and new players are competing here. Some of the athletes were not competing and many were not competing in London 2017. They are all young and showing incredible results. It also shows the growth of the Paralympic Movement and how the nations are serious in taking their preparation in the road to Tokyo 2020. We can expect an incredible Tokyo 2020 Games,” International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons said on the record numbers.
“This has been the best ever Para-Athletics Championships in terms of performance of the players,” he added.