"I had trained Sumit Antil like a commando. He is my best student" — Coach Naval Singh
Sumit Antil's coach Naval Singh elated by his mentees performance and shares his thoughts to The Bridge exclusively after Sumit won the gold medal in Tokyo Paralympics.
Indian javelin thrower Sumit Antil won gold in men's javelin (F64) at the Tokyo Paralympics with a new world record throw of 68.55m. Sumit shattered the world record not once, not twice but thrice during the final in Tokyo on Monday. He threw 66.95 in his first attempt to set the new world record, before bettering it with his second throw. Then in his fifth attempt, he again set a new world record with a throw of 68.55m. Fellow Indian Sandeep Chaudhary finished fourth in the event, with a best throw of 62.20m.
Elated by his historic feat, Sumit Antil's coach Naval Singh gets emotional. In an exclusive conversation with The Bridge, Singh says, "This was my third Paralympics Games as the coach. Before this, Amit Saroha and Jaideep Deswal displayed a good show at the 2012 Paralympics. But before their verification could begin, my father had passed away that year. Today is his birth anniversary, I can't express how big it means for me that Sumit won the gold."
Naval Singh has been training the national javelin throwers since 2012 and he trained Sumit since 2018, the time he started javelin throw. "We had created a coachs' ecosystem in javelin throw and backed every player who performed well. In 2016, Sandeep also missed a medal by a whisker, finishing fourth. I don't have enough words to say how glad I am today."
Asked about the experience of training Sumit under his wings, Singh says, "In the last three years, Sumit has five world records to his name. I often get a bid rude with players; my training methods are hard like the army. So I trained Sumit like a commando, and he has been my best student of. I couldn't go to the Paralympics because I was affected by Covid. But I went to drop him at the airport when he departed for Tokyo and handed him a note with all the essential things I had to say, which I had written."
Sumit Antil had initially started his career as a Wrestler and used to train at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre at Bahalgarh. However, his dreams of representing India in wrestling fell short after a dreadful accident while he was riding his bike. Following the horrors, his leg had to be amputated. Sumit was in the hospital for 53 days but it was during this time where he stumbled upon videos of South Africa's Oscar Pistorius who was one of the world's most famous para-athlete and had a double leg amputation. It was at this moment that Sumit decided to take up the sports once again and become a para-athlete, as he went to Pune to get a prosthetic leg.