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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Ace Indian discus thrower Jaideep Deswal ready to shine at Tokyo Paralympics

The talented discus thrower, Jaideep Deswal, is all set to give it his all on the biggest stage in what would be his second Paralympics outing.

Ace Indian discus thrower Jaideep Deswal ready to shine at Tokyo Paralympics

Ananth Narasimman

Updated: 13 Aug 2021 5:38 AM GMT

Flashback to London 2012, Jaideep Deswal was a young and energetic 22-year-old competing in his first Paralympics in the discus throw event. The youngster from Rohtak Haryana picked up the sport back in 2007 after being egged on by his uncle and friends. His father was a recently retired officer from the Rajasthan Police force. The family lived in a small village on the outskirts of the district and were not familiar with the concept of sports, hence proving to be a huge stumbling block for the ace athlete.

Jaideep's uncle was quick to recognize his talents and encouraged him to work hard and take up the sport. Jaideep made up for the lack of facilities around him by being creative and using his surroundings to train with determination and focus. He was a staple at the fields of his native village, where you could see the young athlete working hard, trying to master his craft.

Like most Para-athletes, Jaideep belonged to a poor rural background that saw academics being the main focus as they believed it was the only way to a successful career. Sports was usually overlooked unless you played cricket at a high level. Para-athletes like Jaideep had to face adversity in many forms due to their disabilities, circumstances, environment and lack of support from people at home and outside. Jaideep, unfortunately, had his left leg paralysed when he was four months old due to the doctor giving him the wrong vaccine. He suffered from Post Polio Residual Paralysis and did not let that or his circumstances deter him from aiming high working towards achieving those goals.

"My family wanted me to study and were worried anyway because of my disability. They wanted me to study so I could get a good job, hopefully in the government, so I could earn some money," said Jaideep, reports The Evening Standard.
Before the London Olympics in 2012, Para-sports was not given the support and attention that it was due hence making it difficult for our athletes to compete against the best in the world. The government's involvement and new legislation changed the game for para-athletes. It stated that disabled athletes representing the state were to be treated equally to their counterparts, hence attempting to remove discrimination.
This change finally allowed the para-athletes the support, remuneration and rewards that were due to them for all their hard work. Changes to the previously corrupt Paralympics Committee of India had a massive effect, as ace athletes such as Jaideep were finally offered assistance, better facilities and top coaches to better their performance.
Jaideep initially competed at the Kuwait International Athletics Championship without professional training in January 2012. Despite the obstacles he faced and lack of proper training, he threw an astounding 36.45 metres. The PCI's move to hire a coach drastically improved his performance as he threw a resounding 40.48 metres at the subsequently held Malaysian Athletics Championship. The drastic improvements was a huge confidence booster for both Jaideep and his family and confirmed what Jaideep already knew, with the necessary support, he could land up on the Paralympics podium.
"When my family saw the improvement I had in such a short span of time, they became supportive. Now my father is a very proud man," Jaideep said, reports The Evening Standard.

Jaideep Deswal (Source: TOI)

He ended up finishing 7th in the 2012 London Paralympics with a mere five years of taking up the sport and with hardly a year of professional training. He followed that up by finishing 4th at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Glasgow and 7th at the 2015 World Athletics Championship in Doha. Jaideep's moment to shine came at the 18th National Para Athletic Championship in 2018, as he won a resounding gold in the discus event.

Fast forward to 2021. The pandemic has posed additional problems to the pre-existing ones, hampering training schedules and preparations for the Paralympics. Jaideep will look to overcome this obstacle like he has done throughout his career after receiving a bipartite invitation to participate in the powerlifting event at the Tokyo Paralympics along with Sakina Khatun.
The ace athlete from Rohtak will be aiming to wear his country's colours with pride as he steps on the podium.
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