Three foul attempts, but promising Indian thrower Yogesh Kathuniya didn’t give up hope to claim the bronze medal in men’s discus throw F56 final at the Dubai 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships.
In doing so, Kathuniya also booked the eighth Tokyo 2020 qualification spot for India in Para-Athletics, before Praveen Kumar joined him with a fourth-place finish in the men’s high jump T64 final last evening. He attained a personal best clearing the bar at 1.92 metres.
Under International Paralympic Committee rules, the top four ranked athletes at the 2019 World Para-Athletics Championships in each of the individual medal events at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Programme (excluding marathon) will each obtain one qualification slot for their respective country.
The 23-year old Kathuniya hurled the discus to a distance of 42.05 metres in his sixth attempt to take the bronze. For the most part of the game, he stayed in the second place behind eventual winner Brazilian Claudiney Batista dos Santos (45.92m) but Iran’s Ali Mohammadyari was lucky to manage just one right attempt in his last – a 43.51 metres – to take the silver. In fact, there was a protest from the Iranian after he was disqualified by the jury. Kathuniya told the Paralympic Committee of India:
The medal also came on a ‘special day’ for the youngster, training under Naval Singh at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, as he completed three years in para-sports on the day.
“Today I completed three years in Para-Athletics. It’s my life now. But we need to be mentally and physically fit, thus I play sports and love studies as well,” said Kathuniya, who is pursuing his Masters in Commerce from Kirori Mal College in Delhi University.
He now eagerly looks forward to going home in Bahadurgarh, Haryana. “My parents will be really proud that I have qualified for the Paralympics. It’s a big thing for them. Now my focus is to start training for Tokyo 2020,” he added. India has two gold, one silver, and two bronze at the Championships.