The 2018 Asian Para Games are right upon us. Recently, Shahrukh Khan bid farewell to the Indian contingent leaving for Jakarta. As they prepare for competition, we take a look at some of the most promising Indian Athletes to watch out for.
1. Deepa Malik
Deepa Malik is now a household name when it comes to sports. India will have great hopes from the veteran para-athlete Deepa Malik for the Asian Para Games. Deepa specializes in Shot Put event.
Diagnosis of Tumor
Born on 30 September 1970, Deepa was leading a normal life. Then, 19 years ago, her entire world suddenly changed as she was diagnosed with a spinal tumor.
After undergoing 31 major surgeries and 183 stitches between her waist and legs, she was declared out of the threat. But the deadly tumor had paralyzed her from the waist, taking away her ability to walk.
Although becoming wheelchair stricken, she actually became more active after the incident. In an interview, she stressed how disability had “brought life back in focus.”
She went on to open a restaurant, set four Limca records before creating ripples in the international athletic circuit.
Paralysis to Paralympian
Malik rose to prominence when in 2010 Guangzhou Para Games, she won a bronze medal followed by the 2014 Incheon Para Games silver she won in the javelin throw event.
Later at the IPC Oceania Asian Championship, Dubai she won a gold in the javelin event and a silver in the shot put event.
In the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Deepa created a history, becoming the first Indian women to win a medal at the competition. Aged 45, she won the silver medal with a throw of 4.61m in the short put event, comfortably defeating Dimitra Korokida of Greece.
Apart from the Olympic medal, she has won 58 national and 18 international medals in a career spanning over 12 years.
She is a recipient of the prestigious Arjuna Award, and the oldest athlete in history to win the award.
She also received the Padma Shri award for her exceptional contribution towards sports and the noble work of fighting for the rights of the disabled.
2. Mariyappan Thangavelu
Mariyappan is an Indian Paralympic high jumper. Like Deepa Malik, he is considered one of India’s best para-athlete. He will be a favorite for the high jumping event at the Asian Para Games.
A Painful Tragedy
While on his way to school in Periavadagampatti village in TN, Mariyappan was run over by a bus. The driver was reportedly drunk at the time.
Mariyappan was saved, but the knee of his right leg got completely crushed, leaving him permanently disabled.
Tryst with High Jumping
Despite his poor family background and a permanent disability, Mariyappan completed his secondary education. It was here that he got exposed to the world of high jumping. After finishing second in a high jumping contest against able-bodied opponents, he received substantial encouragement from fellow students for taking up the sport professionally.
After qualifying for the 2016 Rio Paralympics with a jump of 1.78 m, he went on to win a gold itself in the T42 high jump event in Brazil. He had a record jumping distance of 1.89m, which was enough for his victory. His compatriot, Varun Singh Bhati, finished 3rd with a jump of 1.86m.
3. Varun Singh Bhati
He is another Paralympian having our hopes pinned for at least one medals at the 2018 Asia Para Games.
Infected by polio at a young age, he did his schooling from. Like his national competitor Mariyappan, he also competed against able-bodied opponents and excelled.
2012 London Paralympics
Bhati had generated a lot of buzz during the run-up to the 2012 London Paralympics, after the having a jump of 1.6m and registering an ‘A’ qualification mark.
However, he could not make the cut to London 2012, failing due to limited slots available to India.
Later in the 2014 China Open Athletics Championship, he won a gold medal. In Varun recorded a jump of 1.82m at the 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championship where he won a gold as well as set a new Asian Record.
2016 Rio Paralympics
In the Rio Paralympics, Bhati gave the best jump of his career with a distance of 1.86m. Disappointingly, he had to settle for a bronze.
4. Amit Kumar Saroha
Amit is India’s Paralympic discus throw and club throw, athlete.
At the age of 22, due to a car tragic accident, he became a quadriplegic. He had suffered compression in his spinal cord. This was a T55 disability. He was a professional hockey player, a sport which he couldn’t continue after the injury.
Amit participated in the 2010 Asian Para Games in Guangzhou. There he won a silver medal in the Discus throw. It was one of only 14 other medals won by Indians.
Two years later, he won a Gold in the Olympic qualifier event in Malaysia, breaking the Asian record on the way. As a result, Amit came third in the world rankings.
Further, at the 2014 Incheon Para Games, he won two medals for India – a Gold in Club throw with a distance of 21.31 m and a Silver in the Discus throw with a distance of 9.89 m. The club throw distance was another Asian record, earning him an automatic qualification for Rio 2016.
5. Devendra Jhajharia
Born on 10 June 1981, Devendra Jhajharia is another veteran in the Indian Paralympic field. He is a para javelin thrower and competes in the F46 events.
Doctors had to amputate Devendra’s left hand after he unknowingly came in contact with a live wire. However, he took up the sport of javelin throw on the insistence of Dronacharya awardee and his coach, R D Singh.
He started his winning journey in 2002 when Jhajharia won the gold medal in the 8th FESPIC Games in South Korea.
Two years later, he represented India at the 2004 Paralympic Games. In Athens, he gave his best ever performance and set a new world record with a distance of 62.15m. The throw gave him the gold medal and he became only the second gold medalist at the Paralympics for his country
In 2013, at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, he took the gold medal in the F46 javelin throw. After that, he won a silver medal at the 2014 Asian Para Games at Incheon in South Korea.
He followed that with the 2016 Summer Paralympics gold in Rio de Janeiro. He won in the javelin throw F46 event, after bettering his own 2004 record with a world-record throw of 63.97 meters.
The Asian Para Games will take place in Jakarta, from 8th to 13th October.