The 8th edition of the World Para-Athletics Championship is all set to begin on July 14 at the Olympic Stadium in London. The 66,000 capacity Olympic Stadium was once West Ham United’s home ground, but it has been transformed from a football venue to a stage for world-class athletics since the Premier League season ended. It will be the largest stadium to host the Championships since Berlin’s Olympiastadion in 1994. 1300 athletes are expected to compete, representing a total of 100 countries. This in an increase of 79 athletes and 10 countries from the participants at the Championships in Doha two years ago. There will be 230 medal events which will split across 49 classifications. This is the first time that it will be held in the same city and summer as the International Association of Athletics Federations equivalent, making this a historic moment for the Paralympic movement.
Can we expect a repeat of Rio performance?
Before the start of the 2016 Rio Olympics, who would have thought that our Paralympics team was going to outshine the Olympics team in the medals tally? And so it happened to everyone’s pleasant surprise, the Indian Para-Athletes achieved the unthinkable by winning two gold medals, one silver and one bronze medal.
Devendra Jhajharia clinched gold in the men’s Javelin Throw- F-46 event, his second Gold at the Summer Games. Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati bagged the gold and the bronze medals respectively in the T42 High Jump event. Deepa Malik scripted history as she became the first woman to achieve a podium finish at Paralympics, with her silver medal in women’s F53 shot put event. All of the Paralympic contingent’s medals came in the field events at the Maracana stadium. In fact, 15 of the 19 participants were a part of the Athletics contingent, highlighting India’s strength in that domain.India at recent Para-Athletics meets
India at recent Para-Athletics meets
International Athletics Meet: Dubai
The Dubai club hosted the 9th FAZAA International Athletics competition from March 20-23 this year. The Indian contingent produced yet another stellar performance as they finished 13 medals in the competition. This figure included five golds, three of which were won by Sundar Singh Gurjar. He came out on top in the Javelin Throw and Discus Throw events in his category along with a third gold in the Shot Put event- T-44 category with a throw of 13.36m.
This figure included five golds, three of which were won by Sundar Singh Gurjar. He came out on top in the Javelin Throw and Discus Throw events in his category along with a third gold in the Shot Put event- T-44 category with a throw of 13.36m.Sharad Kumar and
Sharad Kumar and Girisha H. Nagarajgowda gave India the silver and bronze in the High Jump F13/20/42/44 category with leaps of 1.66m and 1.63m respectively.
In the same competition, the women para-athletes also added to the Indian gold medal tally with a gold-silver finish in the women’s wheelchair Shot Put F-55 category. Karamjyoti Dalal won gold with a throw amounting to 5.57m. Shatabdi Awasthi had to settle for a silver medal as she fell a mere 5 centimetres short of Gold.
World Para-athletics Grand Prix: China
The China Administration of Sports for Persons with Disabilities hosted the 5th China Open Athletics Championships in Beijing in May this year. The Indian para-athletes ran havoc in the Grand Prix, especially on the first day, as they bagged 7 medals. They did the nation proud by winning 1 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals. Services athlete Raudri Someshwara Rao won the only gold for India as he won the 200 m men T-44 category clocking a time of 25.29 seconds. Only 0.46 seconds could separate him from fellow Indian Vinay Kumar Lal who claimed the silver in the same event with a timing of 26.15 seconds.
They did the nation proud by winning 1 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze medals. Services athlete Raudri Someshwara Rao won the only gold for India as he won the 200 m men T-44 category clocking a time of 25.29 seconds. Only 0.46 seconds could separate him from fellow Indian Vinay Kumar Lal who claimed the silver in the same event with a timing of 26.15 seconds. Amit Kumar and Jayanti Behera also won a silver medal each; Kumar in the men’s T46 200m and Behera in the women’s 200m T47 Event with a time of 28.50 seconds.
Mohammed Yasser, Sema Hokato and Vikas Dagar bagged a bronze medal each in the F46 shot put men, F42/44 shot put, and the 200m men T35/36 Event respectively.
Indian Athletes to look out for at the upcoming World Championships
Before we take a look at India’s chances in the upcoming world championships, let’s have a quick look at India’s performances in the previous three editions of this competition.
Evidently, India’s performance has improved with a constant positive progression over the past 3 World Championships.
Along with the medal winners at the Rio Paralympics, there are numerous para-athletes in the current contingent who will be sharing the responsibility of winning India a few medals in the London Championships.
After their stellar performance in Beijing, both Ramudri Someshwara Rao and Hokato Sema qualified for the Para-Athletics World Championships and will represent the country in London very soon.
Additionally, Javelin thrower Sandeep Choudhary, currently ranked 54 in the official world rankings, will be keen to stamp his authority in London. Sandeep registered a gigantic throw of 56.52m at the Indian trials to seal his berth in the 2017 World Championships.
As per the current world ranking, 12 Indian athletes are in top five rankings in their respective events. Amit Saroha, Rohit Kumar and Sundar Singh Gurjar are ranked No.2 in the world in men’s club throw F51, men’s discus in F46 category and men’s javelin F46 category respectively
India’s best performance at the Worlds was in 2015 where Jhajharia and Saroha clinched silver each.
Hopes are high in all sections of the Indian camp. Recent media reports quoted positive expectations by the top officials of the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
Here is a list of the complete Indian contingent at the Championships.
“We are expecting four-six medals in London”, said PCI Chairman of Athletics and former Paralympian Giriraj Singh. “Apart from the 12 athletes in top five, another 10 in the 30-member contingent are in the top-10 bracket, so it speaks of our strength. I am confident like in Rio we will have our best performance at the Worlds,” he added.
The future looks bright for the Indian Para-Athletes who will take the field in less than a day’s time. Courtesy an amalgam of experience and will-power, be rest-assured that the Indian contingent will leave no stone unturned in bringing out their A-Game and they have definitely become a force to reckon with in the past couple of years.