Updated: August 31, 2021 9:03:48 am
Tokyo continues to bring happy tidings for India as the Paralympics take off from where the Olympics left. At halfway mark, India have gone past their best-ever medal count, securing two historic gold medals with a world record to boot. Shining in that glittering star cast is javelin para-thrower Devendra Jhajharia whose silver is as bright as any gold. Jhajharia, 40, won his first gold medal at the Paralympics in 2004 at Athens, and 17 years and one pandemic postponement later, returned to Tokyo to win his third Para Games medal to become one of India’s greatest sportspersons. In what is a testament to the Rajasthan legend’s longevity, resilience and continued commitment to excellence, his latest silver came on the back of his personal best throw of 64.35 metres — a progression from his historic hurls that fetched him gold medals in Athens and at Rio.
Jhajharia’s gold in 2004 had marked the turning point for Indian para sport, and it had owed almost entirely to the efforts of his mother to bolster his confidence when he was young. Undeterred by the accident that led to amputation of his left arm as a child, she told her son that there was no reason to fear the outdoors and reinforced in him the self-assurance that he belonged on the sports field. No impairment could pull him back from self belief as one of India’s most inspiring figures aiming for and achieving the very best in global sport.
On Monday, Jhajharia would achieve success again on the javelin field, the scene of Neeraj Chopra’s gold a fortnight ago. Having spent years taking the help of scientific advances in training techniques and seeking expertise from some of the best coaches in Europe, Jhajharia would also raise the bar of excellence. The country will do well to learn from Jhajharia that smart solutions exist to help the differently abled to not just survive, but excel — on the field, and off it.
This editorial first appeared in the print edition on August 31, 2021 under the title ‘Jhajharia’s feat’.
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