Tokyo [Japan], August 26 (ANI): Consisting some of India's top medal hopefuls for the Paralympics, India's athletics team has sent a strong contingent of 24 para-athletes to Tokyo this year. The list includes the Rio — Paralympics Gold medallist Thangavelu Mariyappan, who won the precious medal in Men's High Jump in the T42 category.
Though Mariyappan had missed the Opening Ceremony after coming in close contact with a COVID 19 patient, he has been cleared to compete by the organising committee as long as he tests negative for the COVID-19 virus.
Besides Mariyappan, the athletics team also consists of India's legendary javelin thrower Devendra, who currently holds the world record of F46 category to his name and is India's first and only double gold medallist in the Paralympic Games.
India has fielded a strong contingent of eight javelin throwers including Jhajharia and all of them hold a strong position in the world rankings and would be aiming to grab the prestigious medal at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. This includes Sandeep Chaudhary (F44 Category), Sumit Antil (F64 Category), Sundar Singh Gurjar (F46 Category), Ajeet Singh Yadav (F46 Category), Navdeep (F41 Category), and Ranjeet Bhati (F57 Category).
India has also got a strong contention in Men's High Jump, where besides Mariyappan, who will be aiming to get his 2nd consecutive Paralympic gold medal, India has Rio Bronze medallist Varun Singh Bhati who will be aiming to change the colour of his medal in the F42 Category, Sharad Kumar, who is currently ranked 2nd in the world (F42 category), World number 3 Praveen Kumar (T44 category), Nishad Kumar (T47 category) and Ram Pal Chahar (T47 Category).
Two other names to watch out for in the throw events would be shot-putter Soman Rana who competes in the F57 category and is currently ranked 2nd in the World and discus thrower Yogesh Kathuniya who competes in the F56 category and had won the Bronze Medal in World Para Athletics Championship, Dubai 2019.
India has a strong history in the track and field events of Paralympics having won 10 of their 12 medals in field events alone. Looking at their past history in the Paralympics, the Ministery of Youth Affairs and Sports established a professional set-up under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) in the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for the management of the para-athletes. The team has a dedicated research wing and athlete relationship management personnel working with 55 para-athletes that are currently part of the TOPS Core Group.
In this Olympic Cycle alone the TOPS athletes have been given government support such as foreign exposure trips for training, financial assistance for coaches, physios & masseurs along with financial assistance to procure prosthesis, electric wheelchairs, and sports specific equipment. Many of the athletes such as T. Mariyappan, Ekta Bhyan, Varun Bhati, and Amit Saroha have been employed by SAI as coaches or assistant coaches to help train the next generation of para-athletes.
India's representation in the athletics events of the Tokyo Paralympics will begin on Friday and conclude on September 4. (ANI)
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