A record 25 para-athletes, including 2016 Paralympics gold medal winning javelin thrower Devender Jhajharia and high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu, have started their final preparations for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) believes could be India’s most successful so far.
The Paralympics Games will be held in Tokyo from August 24-September 5.
The national coaching camp for para-athletes has commenced at various Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres across the country. Jhajharia is training at SAI’s Gandhinagar centre while Mariyappan is preparing at SAI South Centre in Bengaluru.
The PCI and SAI have stationed necessary coaches and support staff at the four centres — SAI Sonepat (six athletes), Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi (10), Gandhinagar (1) and Bengaluru (8).
Chief national coach Satyanarayana is coordinating the efforts from Bengaluru. The athletes are training at their respective base because of the COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult to have a centralised camp.
Among others who have started their final preparations are javelin throwers Sandeep Chaudhary, Sumit and Navdeep,Yogesh Kathuria (men’s discus thrower) and Simran (men’s100m runner).
“Our aim is to help the players get the best training before the Tokyo Paralympics. We are in constant touch with the players about the requirements and are trying to cater to their needs. Though there are certain restrictions due to Covid protocol, but we are still doing our best,” PCI secretary general Gursharan Singh said in a release on Tuesday.
PCI president Deepa Malik believes that history shall be written at Tokyo Games. “The world will see India become a major power in the field of Athletics. In Rio2016, all four medals came from athletics. This time we are not only set to increase the number of medals but also stamp India’s presence on the Games,” said Deepa, who won a silver medal in shot put in Rio.