Tokyo: If the annals of Indian sports are ever written in a proper manner, August 30, 2021 should always be a red-letter day. June 25 and April 2 are always celebrated in India with pomp and gaiety as it was on these days India emerged champions in the ICC World Cup. Now those will certainly pale in comparison to August 30.
Since the beginning of the Olympic and the Paralympic Games, there has not been one single occasion when Indian sportspersons have won two gold medals on a single day. In Olympics other than the hockey golds, only Abhinav Bindra (2008) and Neeraj Chopra (2021) have given us the chance to hear the national anthem. It has been a long wait, but finally Avani Lekhara and then Sunil Antil gave the country the opportunity to hear the national anthem twice in a single day… simply a day for posterity.
Avani created history Monday morning as she became the first Indian woman to win a gold medal at the Paralympics. She shot her way to the top of the podium in the R-2 women’s 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 event here.
Then it was Antil’s turn to hog the limelight as the debutant smashed his own world record multiple times for the F64 class gold. His throw of 68.55 metres ensured India’s second gold for the day.
Add to that Devendra Jhajharia’s and Sundar Singh Gurjar’s F46 category silver and bronze medals in javelin and Yogesh Kathuniya’s F56 silver in the discus event and it truly makes it a ‘Wow’ day for Indian sports.
Avani, the 19-year-old from Jaipur, who sustained spinal cord injuries in a car accident in 2012, finished with a world record-equalling total of 249.6, which is also a new Paralympic record.
“I can’t describe this feeling; I’m feeling like I’m on top of the world. It’s unexplainable,” an elated Lekhara said after the presentation ceremony. “I’m so happy I could be the one to contribute it. Hopefully there are a lot more medals to come,” Lekhara added.
Antil on the other hand stated that he could have done better in spite of the world record. “During training, I always throw 71m, 72m. I don’t know why I couldn’t do it here. May be I was a tad nervous,” he said.
Hailing from Sonepat in Haryana, Antil, who lost his left leg below the knee after he was involved in a motorcycle accident in 2015, bettered the previous world record of 62.88m, also set by him, five times on the day.
The F64 category is for athletes with a leg amputation, who compete with prosthetics in a standing position while the F46 classification is for athletes with arm deficiency, impaired muscle power or impaired passive range of movement in arms.