Sumit Antil created history when he won the javelin gold in the Tokyo Paralympics and with this, India now have had the best haul in the history of the Games.
In India, getting an individual gold medal in one Olympic Games is considered a brilliant feat. But, what if, one gets two gold medals in the same edition? That is a feat that has never happened for India in the Olympics. But, the Paralympics and Paralympians continue to push new ground. When Avani Lekhara won the gold medal in the air rifle event on August 30, Sumit Antil won the javelin gold on the same day. The amazing thing about this is that he secured a world record in his very first throw. Thus, August 30 will forever be remembered as a golden day in the history of Indian sports.
The feat of two gold medals equals their best effort in Rio 2016. But, their tally of eight medals is now the best-ever haul in the history of the Paralympics. In fact, Tokyo 2020 has already proven to be the best when it comes to medal hauls for both Olympians and Paralympians in the history of the Games. Sumit Antil’s name will forever be etched as one of the players who gave India a historic eighth medal in the Paralympics. It is a testament to the brilliance of the Paralympic athletes, who have overcome the odds to win medals in Tokyo.
Participating in the F64 category, Sumit Antil clinched the gold medal with a world record throw of 68.55 meters. It follows a similar trend to Lekhara, who won the gold medal and also secured the world record. This shows the mindset that individuals are not only winning medals but are securing them in the most dominant manner.
This was the same mindset of dominance that gave Antil confidence to pursue a different career path. Born in Khewda village in Sonipat, Sumit Antil was actually interested in wrestling. He had cited Yogeshwar Dutt as his inspiration and he worked hard from a young age to achieve perfection.
One day in 2015, Sumit Antil wanted to go to an akhara to hone his wrestling skills. He took a bath and was ready to leave for the akhara on his motorbike. But, on the way, his bike was hit by a tractor and he skidded off the road. Unfortunately, the tractor driver did not apply the brakes on time and he ran over Sumit’s left leg. His injury was severe and doctors stated they had no choice but to amputate his left leg. His wrestling dreams were crushed.
His wrestling dreams were crushed, but it did not end his determination. He needed some direction and he found it in Naval Singh, the Paralympic athletes javelin coach. Naval Singh stated that Sumit was six foot two inches and had the build to become a good javelin player. The determination that he showed to excel in the javelin was confirmed when he went to the 2019 World Para Athletics Championship. He clinched silver in his first outing.
Heading into the Tokyo Paralympics, Sumit Antil has lived up to the belief of Naval Singh and has managed to win the gold. In the sport where Devendra Jhajhariya and Neeraj Chopra have excelled, Sumit Antil now has added the cherry on top of the cake.
The 2020 Paralympic Games are already proving to be historic for India. With Bhavina Patel winning the first medal in Table Tennis, Javelin has once again helped India overcome their poor record in track and field events. When Neeraj Chopra ended India’s jinx in the Tokyo Olympics 2020, it promises a revolution in the field of athletics.
But, with Antil taking over the mantle of Devendra Jhajhariya who has won two gold medals in Javelin, the future in Paralympic sports looks promising.
In the history of the Olympics, India has won just two individual gold medals. The Paralympic athletes, on the other hand, have won six individual gold medals, which is more than thrice our Olympians. They have won it in events where no one could have imagined. Bhavina Patel grabbed silver and that too by defeating a Chinese paddler. This was a story bigger than her medal. The likes of Murlikant Petkar won in swimming. Before Chopra, it was Jhajhariya not once but twice that won the gold in the javelin.
Shotput and other athletic events have been graced by the brilliance of Mariyapan Thangavelu and Deepa Malik. When our Paralympians have been breaking new ground regularly, the enhanced coverage in both Tokyo Olympics and the Paralympics has ensured that their achievements are brought out on a larger scale.
The efforts of Sumit Antil, Avani Lekhara, Bhavina Patel, and Devendra Jhajhariya have ensured that India now ends up with the best haul in their history. They might even go past 10, making it the first time they have ever breached the double-digit medal tally in the history of the Games. 2021 Tokyo is a golden chapter in the history of Indian sport. One must never forget it.