Devendra Jhajharia had to wait 12 long years before he was able to participate in the Paralympics, but when he did, he broke his own World record and won India's fourth medal in the 2016 edition. Crediting his will power for the feat, Jhajharia also thanked the Government and his sponsors.
“If you have the willpower then nothing is impossible in this world. I won my first Paralympics medal in 2004 and now after 12 years, it is just the dedication and hard work which paid off,” Devendra told IANS after his victory.
Jhajharia clinched Gold in the F46 Javelin event with a throw of 63.97 metres at the Olympic Stadium in Rio yesterday – an improvement on his previous record of of 62.15 metres at the Athens Paralympics in 2004.
Speaking about how he feels after the medal-winning attempt, he said, “The feeling can’t be expressed in words..it’s like a dream come true. Even if I broke the world record in 2004, but this is something very very special. I felt like successfully completing a mission”.
Devendra could not participate in the 2008 and 2012 editions as the F46 event did not feature in both but persevered to stay in shape even after 12 years and carried the national flag in the Opening ceremony of the event.
“Maintaining the same focus at 23 and now at the age of 35 has been quite tough. But getting another gold after a 12-year long wait only sweetens the feeling more. I trained for four hours daily (two hours in the morning and another two in the evening) at the SAI centre,” he said.
“But when I moved to Finland for training, we worked for about seven hours everyday. This also forced the authorities there to admit how hardworking Indians can be. So I can proudly say that this gold is the outcome of all that hard work and dedication“.
Devendra had suffered an injury and was subsequently amputated after he was electrocuted while climbing a tree when he was eight years old.
Reserving credit for the performance to all stakeholders, he also praised the Government and private sponsors who helped him along the way.
“I want to credit this win to the government’s TOP scheme, which is an unprecedented step by the current dispensation. With this kind of support, I am sure the country will produce many more Devendra’s,” he said.
“Corporate support is also an important factor for an athlete’s success. I am grateful to Go Sports Foundation, IndusInd Bank and Sony for all their support for getting me equipment and enabling me train,” he added.
Jhajharia was the first Indian para-athlete to win the Padma Shri in 2012. He had also received the Arjuna award in 2004. The athlete feels that the nation's perception towards para athletes is gradually changing.
He said, “Perception towards para athletes has gradually changed over the time. The credit goes to the brilliant performances of the athletes, not only at the Paralympics but also other tournaments like World championships,” reported IANS.