Paralympic roundup: Harvinder, Avani, Praveen win medals on historic day
Tokyo: Archer Harvinder Singh claimed a historic first bronze medal for India in Olympics or Paralympics, Avani Lekhara bagged a second medal — a bronze in 50m Rifle 3 Position and high jumper Praveen Kumar bagged a maiden silver medal as India had another good day at the Tokyo Paralympic Games on Friday.
After a medal-less two days, India got back the medal momentum, clinching three medals on Friday, which took the tally to 13 medals — two gold, six silver, and five bronze. India have thus overtaken its overall tally of 12 medals won in Paralympic Games so far. It is likely to add a few more medals from para-badminton on Saturday.
It all started with Praveen Kumar bagging silver medal in the men’s High Jump T64 and Avani followed suit, Indian shooting’s golden girl clinching a bronze medal in the Women’s 50m air rifle 3 position and at the end of the day, recurve archer Harvinder Singh bagged the bronze in the men’s individual open category.
Avani, who earlier won gold in the 10m air rifle SH1 event, became the first Indian woman to win multiple medals from the Paralympic Games. She shot a total score of 445.9 in the 50m rifle 3 positions final. Avani, who also works as an Assistant Conservator of Forest with the Govt of Rajasthan, has had been training under Suma Shirur at the JDA Shooting Range in Jaipur before the Tokyo Games. She has been wheelchair-bound since a road accident in 2012.
The 18-year-old Kumar, whose one leg was short since birth, recorded a jump of 2.07m — an Asian record — on Friday, to take home the silver medal. He started training under the tutelage of Satyapal Singh in 2018 and went on to win silver medal at the World Para Athletics Junior Championship 2019 in Switzerland. Right after the pandemic, Praveen won the gold medal with a then-Asian record at the Fazza Grand Prix World meet earlier this year in Dubai.
Satyapal recounted a moment during the lockdown when Praveen had to create a makeshift training facility.
“During the first lockdown, he was back at his Govindgarh village in Jewar and I used to call him up daily and guide him. He used to dig mud and train at his home. It continued for 2-3 months and following that, we got special permission from the Sports Authority of India to return to train at the JLN Stadium in Delhi,” said Satyapal.
“It’s great for him to win a medal at the age of 18 and plans are in place for the Paralympics in Paris.”
Harvinder, meanwhile, won against Korea’s Kim Min Su 6-5 in the bronze medal match in a dramatic shoot-off amid rainy conditions. It is a historic first-ever medal for India from the Paralympic Games. A gold-medallist at the Asian Para Games 2018, Haryana-based archer Harvinder took a fond interest in archery after watching the London 2012 Olympics. During the lockdown, Harvinder’s father turned his farm into an archery range so that he can continue his practice. Harvinder is also pursuing a Ph.D. (Economics) in the Department of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala.
India missed a medal in men’s shot put as Soman Rana finished fourth with a best throw of 13.81 metres finishing behind Brazil’s Thiago dos Santos Paulino (15.10), China’s Wu Guoshan(15.00), and another Brazilian Borges Marco Aurelio (14.85).
In badminton, India are in for a good haul as they have made it to six semi-finals, five in singles, and one mixed doubles. Pramod Bhagat and Manoj Sarkar have made it to the semis in the SL3 category while Suhas Yathiraj and Tarun Dhillon are among the last-four in men’s SL4 category. Krishna Nagar will be contesting the semis in men’s SH6 class. Pramod Bhagat and Parul Kohli will be contesting the mixed doubles semifinals, which will be held on Saturday. With two players each in the fray in men’s SL3 and SL4 class, India are assured of at least two medals.