Disability is Nothing

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Indian athletes at the Tokyo Paralympics have been way more successful than their able-bodied counterparts. The percentage of medals was high, as well as the overall position of the country in the medals tally. A study of medals also shows that the most medallists, in the para-Games were from Haryana. Haryana had also sent a number of medallists to the main Games. Maybe, Haryana is doing something right, and the rest of the country needs to follow.

At Tokyo Paralympics India won 19 medals, including 5 golds, 8 silvers and 6 bronze. That pushed India’s position at the end of the Games to 24th. At the Olympics main, India had won 7 medals, including one gold, 2 silvers and 4 bronze medals. India had finished at 48th position.

Maybe the two Games aren’t really comparable on the same scale, but here is another bit of statistic. India sent 120 athletes for various competitions to the main Olympic Games. The total improved on the tally of 117 sent to the Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Of the 120 Indians, there were 68 male and 52 female athletes. India did improve on its Rio performance of 2 medals (1 silver, 1 bronze) and even improved upon the London Olympics (2012) tally of 6 medals. But the percentage of medals was only 5.8% medals (out of total 120 athletes).
On the other hand, at the Para Games in Tokyo India sent 54 athletes (40 men, 14 women) for various competitions and the medal haul is an impressive 35.18 percent. At the Rio Paralympics India had won 4 medals (2 Gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze).

The very reason for sending more athletes to an Olympic Games is to increase the chances of medals. That is one of the primary concerns of Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) of the government. Maybe this needs a detailed study.

Here is another bit of interesting data for both the Games. Haryana, with just 2 percent of the country’s population, sent 32 athletes to the main Olympic Games, comprising about 26% of the total. Of the 32, three athletes from this state won medals at the Tokyo Olympics. That is a creditable 9.3 percent. The medallists were javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra (gold), wrestlers Ravi Dahiya (silver) and Bajrang Punia (bronze). The Manohar Lal Khattar-led government in Haryana has announced cash rewards of Rs 6 crore to Chopra, Rs 4 crore to Dahiya and Rs 2.5 crore to Punia.

Even in the Tokyo Paralympics a huge chunk of Indian athletes had their roots in Haryana. Haryana sent 17 para-athletes, of who 5 athletes won 6 medals (2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze), out of a total of 19 medals which is 35.29 percent. This is close to the overall percentage of Indians succeeding at the Para-Olympics.

The medallists from Haryana in the para-Games were Sumit Antil (javelin), Manish Narwal (gold in 50m mixed air pistol) and Singhraj Adana (silver in 50m mixed air pistol and bronze in 10m air pistol). Also winning were Yogesh Kathuniya (silver in men’s discus), Harvinder Singh (bronze in archery). The state government has announced that it will provide a cash reward of Rs 6 crore to the gold medallists and another Rs 4 crore to silver medallists and Rs 2.5 crore to bronze medallists.

In the second half of the Tokyo para Games, India carried on in the same vein, winning three more gold medals, brought home by Manish Narwal, Krishna Nagar and Pramod Bhagat. The silvers were from Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj, Singraj Adana, Praveen Kumar and Mariappan Thangavelu. The bronze winners were Singraj Adana, Sharad Kumar, Avni Lekhara and Harvinder Singh.

Manish Narwal
Gold : 50m mixed air pistol, SH1 Category (Shooters able to support a firearm without a stand).
Manish Narwal was born on October 17, 2001 in Haryana. His younger brother has been a member of the able-bodied Indian national junior shooting squad.
Career: Narwal started pistol shooting in 2016 at Faridabad, Haryana, where he made history by setting a world record while clinching gold in the P4 mixed 50m pistol SH1 event at the 2021 Para Shooting World Cup. He won several medals, including gold, silver and bronze at national and International events. He ranks fourth in the world in Men’s 10m Air Pistol SH1 according to the World Shooting Para Sport Rankings.
Tokyo Paralympics : He won Gold he amassed 218.2 points to clinch the gold while, Singhraj grabbed his second medal of the Paralympics with 216.7 points. This event saw a 1-2 for India, never before achieved by the country at this level. After the victory, Manish said: “I’m extremely pleased with the showing. It was an intense contest and to come good was huge.”

Pramod Bhagat
Gold : Badminton Sl-3 Category (Standing/lower limb impairment/minor).
Pramod Bhagat was born on June 4, 1988 in Hajipur, Vaishali, Bihar. He later moved to Bhubaneswar in Odisha. When he was five years old, he developed a defect in his left leg and it seemed his playing days were over. But when he was 13,he went to see a badminton match and completely caught up with the game. He played his first tournament against general category players when he was 15. He was encouraged by the spectators to move forward in his badminton career. Unfortunately, his mother Kusum Devi also died due to Covid-19 in 2020 and it was a big setback. This success is a great testimony of his mental strength.
Career: He had been ranked world number one in para-badminton men’s singles SL3. Gold medals in singles and doubles events of RYLA International Challenger Tournament 2008. Silver and gold medals in singles and doubles events of the Asian Para Olympic Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand 2008. Gold and Bronze medal in singles and doubles events of the Asian Para Games 2018 Jakarta, Indonesia. Gold and silver medal in singles and doubles events of Australia Para-Badminton International Tournament 2018. Clinched gold in men’s singles SL3 event of the 2019 Fazza Dubai Para-Badminton International. Gold medals in both singles and doubles events at the 2019 China Para-Badminton International

In Tokyo : The reigning world champion Bhagat claimed a historic gold medal in men’s singles SL3 class, beating Great Britain’s Daniel Bethell  21-14, 21-17 in 45 minutes to secure a top podium finish.
He said : “This is a very proud moment for me. I’m representing the Indian badminton community and India as a whole.”

Krishna Nagar
Gold : Badminton SH6 Category (Standing/short stature, players whose height doesn’t increase proportionately with age. 22).
Krishna Nagar was born on January 12, 1999 in Rajasthan. Once bullied in school for his height, despite having a medical condition, he has now made the country proud by becoming a Paralympics champion.
Career : He had been ranked world number 2 in para-badminton men’s Singles SH6. In the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia, Krishna Nagar won a bronze in the singles event. In the 2019 BWF Para-Badminton World Championships in Basel, Switzerland Krishna Nagar won the silver medal in the men’s doubles event alongside compatriot Raja Magotra. He also won a bronze in the singles event.

In Tokyo : Krishna won gold in men’s singles SH6 with a hard-fought win over Hong Kong’s Chu Man Kai  21-17, 16-21, 21-17 in a match lasting a total of 43 minutes.
He said: “This is a dream come true. I want to thank my father, mother, uncle, god and my coaches.”

Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj
Silver : Men’s badminton SL-4 Category (Standing/ lower limb impairment/severe) impairment to one of his ankles.
Suhas was born on July 2, 1983 in Hassan, Karnataka. currently ranked world No. 2 in men’s singles, Suhas is also an IAS officer of the 2007 batch of Uttar Pradesh cadre. He is also district magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar (Noida). He thus also became the first-ever IAS officer to win a medal at the Paralympics.
In Tokyo : He bagged the silver in the men’s singles SL4 category after losing a gripping battle with world No 1 Frenchman Lucas Mazur 21-15, 17-21, 15-21 in the final.
He said : “People get government jobs after winning Olympic medals; I did it the other way round.”