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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

A look at India's most successful para athletes in the history of Paralympics

India has competed in 11 editions of the Paralympics. Here we look at the country's most successful Paralympians.

Devendra Jhajaria (Source: Paralympics)

Devendra Jhajaria (Source: Paralympics)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 18 Aug 2021 10:55 AM GMT

India's success in the Paralympics, unlike the Olympics where it has seen domination by the hockey team, is majorly dominated by individual athletes. India has competed in 11 editions of the Paralympic Games since its introduction in 1960, where the country has won 12 medals, including four gold, four silver, and four bronze.

Here we look at the most successful individuals at the Paralympic Games:

Murlikant Petkar

Murlikant Petkar (Source: murlikantpetkar.com)

Murlikant Petkar, an Army man who suffered injuries in an aerial attack during the 1965 war with Pakistan and was rendered paraplegic, bagged the first gold medal for India in the Paralympics -- at the 1972 Games at Heidelberg, Germany. Petkar won gold in 50m freestyle 3 swimming in the then world record time of 37.33 seconds. He started off with a world record time of 38.19 secs.

A soldier of the craftsman rank in the Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), Petkar was visiting Jammu and Kashmir when his army camp came under aerial attack from Pakistani troops.

Rendered disabled for life, he was advised by a physiotherapist at INHS Asvini, the Navy hospital in Mumbai, to take up sports as part of his rehabilitation. Petkar tried his hand at table tennis, athletics and swimming and represented the country in all three sports.

Joginder Singh Bedi

India's Joginder Singh Bedi won the Silver medal at the Men's Shot Put event during the 1984 Games. He also won bronze at the Discus and Javelin throw events at the Games. Bedi is the most decorated Paralympian, having won the maximum number of medals by an individual at a Paralympics Games so far.

Devendra Jhajharia

Devendra Jhajaria

India's most successful Paralympic athlete Devendra Jhajharia is up for another attempt at winning a gold medal at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Jhajharia has won gold medals in javelin throw F46 in the 2004 and 2016 Paralympic Games with a world record to boast.

Born in 1981, Jhajharia is the only Indian to win two individual gold medals in Olympic or Paralympic Games. And now he wants to make it three to set the bar higher for the next generation.

Mariyappan Thangavelu

Mariyappan Thangavelu

Thangavelu is an Indian Paralympic high jumper. He represented India in the 2016 Summer Paralympic games held in Rio de Janeiro in the men's high jump T-42 category, winning the gold medal in the finals.

The Government of India announced the "Padma Shri" award for his contribution towards sports, and in the same year, he was also awarded Arjuna Award.

At the age of five, Mariyappan suffered permanent disability in his right leg when he was run over by a drunk bus driver while walking to school; in 2015, bringing him to Bengaluru for further coaching. In March 2016, Mariyappan cleared a distance of 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) in the men's high jump T–42 event at the IPC Grand Prix in Tunisia, qualifying him for the Rio Paralympics. At the Rio Paralympics, he won the gold medal in the men's high jump T–42 event, with a leap of 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in).

Deepa Malik

Deepa Malik

The oldest athlete of the Indian contingent in the Rio 2016 Games — 45-year-old Deepa Malik, scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman athlete to win a medal in the Paralympic games. A silver medal in the shot put in the 2016 Rio Summer Paralympics.

Deepa was diagnosed with a spine tumour when she was just 5. It took around three years of treatment and aggressive physiotherapy to recover from that. In 1999, when she was 29, the spine tumor returned, and doctors were left with no other option but to operate. They made it clear to her that the surgery would make her unable to walk. It took three surgeries and 183 stitches to eliminate the cancerous tumor off her body.

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