Tokyo: Breaking the world record five times on his way to gold in the Paralympics did not suffice for reluctant-wrestler-turned-javelin-thrower Sumit Antil. The Indian vowed to better what was already an incredible performance by every yardstick. The 23-year-old Sumit Antil clinched India’s second gold at the ongoing Paralympics here Monday, shattering the men’s F64 category world record multiple times in a stunning Games debut performance of 68.55m.
Sunil was a wrestler prior to a motorcycle accident that resulted in his left leg being amputated, before life smiled on him and a new avenue opened up.
“I was not that great a wrestler. In my area of India, the family forces you to become a wrestler,” he quipped after winning the gold. “I started wrestling when I was seven-eight years old, and I continued for four or five years, but not regularly. I was not that good,” Sunil stated.
“I met with an accident and had my leg amputated. After that, life changed. I went to the stadium just to meet people in 2015, and I saw para-athletes. They said, ‘You have good height and posture, maybe you can be in the next Paralympics’. Who knew I would be the next champion?” he further stated.
Sunil He did become a champion on Monday, and that too, at the sport’s grandest stage.
“This is my first Paralympics and I was a little nervous because the competitors are great. I was hoping for a 70-metre-plus throw, maybe I can do 75m. It was not my best, I am very happy to break the world record,” Sunil stated.
This was not the first time he was making the javelin travel far.
A few months before the Tokyo Games, within a span of 20 days, Haryana’s Sunil had broken the world record twice in the F-64 category.
In his sixth and last attempt he hurled the javelin to a distance of 66.90 metres at the 19th Para-Athletics Championships at Bangalore in March. The effort bettered his own world record of 66.43m, set during the third leg of the Indian Grand Prix, March 5 in Patiala. Both these efforts were, however, not recorded for world records.
On how much further he can throw, he said, “During training I have thrown 71m, 72m, many times. I don’t know what happened in my competition. “One thing is for sure in future I will throw much better.”
Sunil is definitely happy to have won the top medal at the biggest stage, terming it as realisation of a dream.
“It is a dream come true. I can’t express my feelings right now,” the 23-year-old, said.
Antil, who lost his left leg below the knee after he was involved in a motorbike accident in 2015, sent the spear to 68.55m in his fifth attempt, which was the best of the day by quite a distance and a new world record.
The F64 category is for athletes with a leg amputation, who compete with prosthetics in a standing position.