Sundar Singh Gurjar gave India its first medal on Day 1 of the 2017 IPC Para Athletics Championships in London. In the absence of Paralympic gold medallist Devendra Jhajharia, Gujar took home the gold medal and the tag of World Champion, with a personal best throw of 60.36m.
Speaking after his event, Sundar said, "I was very disappointed after Rio, as I had prepared intensely and ultimately, could not compete. My morale was completely broken then, but I am delighted with this comeback to competition. I had trained hard for the World Championships as well, but not as much as I had done for Rio. Hence, this gold medal is great motivation for me to perform even better from here on. I have recovered fully and will do even better at the Asian Games [next year]. I am a little bit disappointed at not being able to break the World Record, but am still satisfied that I got the medal. Full credit goes to my coach Shri Mahavir Prasad Sir."
The javelin F46 event also saw another impressive performance by 18-year old Rinku. The talented boy from Rohtak who had finished 5th in Rio, exceeded his personal best from the Paralympics with a 55.12m throw, to end up 4th and narrowly miss out on another medal for India. Rinku seemed very pleased with his performance. Speaking after his event, he declared himself satisfied to have delivered his best where it counted. Grinning, he declared, "I am very happy with this performance and with the fact that I am improving my personal bests. Missing the medal was my fate, but the Junior World Championships are coming up later this month, and I will try my best to break the world record there."
In the men's shot put F57 event, Virender Dhankar also came tantalisingly close to a podium place, ended up in 4th place with a throw of 13.62m. Having arrived at the Championships in fine form, the father of two appeared visibly disappointed at having missed out on a medal. He professed, "I was feeling great up until yesterday, but for some reason on the day of the event, my body felt different and I could not perform to capacity." Virender had thrown 14.55m at the World Championships selection trials in Delhi earlier this year; a repeat of that performance would have seen Virender claim the Gold medal here.
Meanwhile, 32 year old Ekta Bhyan, competing in her first major international event, produced a brave performance to secure 6th place in the women's club throw F51 final. Ekta had, unfortunately, had fallen ill upon arrival in London, thus putting a dent in her preparations for the competition. She nevertheless managed to produce a commendable performance of 14.63m, not too far off her personal best. On the other hand, 17-year old track athlete Jayanti Behera from Odisha finished 5th in her 200m T47 heat, and could not progress further in the competition. She now eagerly awaits her main event 400m T47 on July 21.
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