The ghosts of 2016 haunted Sundar Singh at Tokyo Paralympics

Sundar Singh (right) showing his bronze medal on the podium at the Tokyo Paralympics
Sundar Singh (right) showing his bronze medal on the podium at the Tokyo Paralympics

Indian para-athlete Sundar Singh Gurjar won the bronze medal in the javelin throw at the Tokyo Paralympics. He had to work double hard for two things – one to win the gold medal at the Paralympics and two to bury the ghosts of Rio de Janeiro.

At the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Sundar Singh was disqualified after failing to register his name for the event on time. He was warming up and did not understand when his name was called. By the time he arrived at registration, he was 52 seconds late and was disqualified from the event.

Sundar Singh, one of the best javelin throwers in the Paralympics, however, made sure there was no blip this time around.

Also Read: Sports Minister Anurag Thakur hails para-athletes, hopes javelin to become as popular as a cricket bat in India

In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Sundar Singh said while he realized his dream of being a Paralympic medalist, his quest to win the gold medal will make him work double as hard in the future. He said:

“I am very happy but not 100% satisfied. My goal, my hard work and my quest was for the gold medal but somewhere something was lacking and I ended up with the bronze medal. I will be sure to talk to my coach about the shortcomings at the Paralympics and will work double hard to overcome them and dish out better performances in the future. Now, my focus is on the 2022 Asian Games and World Championships. However, the main goal is to win a gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics.”

For the past month, the javelin throw has been one of the most talked about events, thanks to Neeraj Chopra’s exploits at the grand stage. However, Sundar Singh said there was no pressure on him from any quarter to win gold but the thought of missing the event five years ago kept coming back to haunt him. He explained:

“There was pressure on thinking how I missed the 2016 Paralympics. I wanted to win the medal here and the 2016 episode was playing on my mind a lot of times. I might have choked in the final, but I am a medalist and I am happy. However, I don’t want to be completely happy with this and keep improving on this performance and target more laurels.”

Sundar Singh says team work helped India at Paralympics

India has been competing in the Paralympic Games since 1968. From then until after Rio 2016, they won just 12 medals. However, at the Tokyo Olympics 2021 alone, the country bested their all-time tally by a whopping seven medals.

Sundar Singh said this massive feat was only possible due to teamwork. He added:

“First of all, I would love to thank our honorable Prime Minister for motivating us before we left for Tokyo. He spoke to all of us after winning the medal and has invited us to meet him. This haul of medals couldn’t have been possible without the complete support from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI). It shows the support they have given, the hard work of the coaches and that’s how we have won as a team and excelled as a team.”

SAI has helped Sundar Singh with adequate foreign exposure. They helped him compete in seven international competitions along with conducting regular national coaching camps with sports science support. SAI has also been instrumental in assisting financially with the procurement of prosthesis and equipment for Sundar Singh.

With its exploits on the grandest stage, Sundar Singh opined that India will soon become the javelin hub in the world. He said:

“There is a lot of craze in javelin and we are leading in the world. We have medalists like Neeraj Chopra, Sumit Antil, Devender, and myself. I hope we can become the hub in javelin throw in the world soon.”

Also read: PCI Chief Deepa Malik hails the para-athletes success in Tokyo, confident for 2024 Paralympic Games

Edited by Diptanil Roy

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