India's para-athletes have opened the account at 2017 World Para Athletics Championships on day 1 with a Gold. Sundar Singh Gurjar triumphed in the men's javelin throw F46 with a personal best of 60.36m.
Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Priyantha Herath came second with 57.93m, while defending champion Guo Chunliang of China was third with a season’s best 56.14m.
This was nothing less than redemption for Gurjar, who suffered a miserable heartbreak at the Rio Olympics two years ago.
Sundar had, back then, set a national record in javelin throw - the event he was to represent in Rio.
He saw it as his day, the day he would win a medal for India.
"I wanted to win. That was all that I had in mind. I had prepared for this day since the last four years of my life and wanted to make it count," recalls Sundar.
Minutes later, everything changed. India won a medal, but the medallists didn't include his name. The reason was tragic, as the 21-year old missed his call, failing to understand the accent of the announcers, as he reached the registration desk only a minute late to find himself disqualified.
He did manage to redeem his name almost six months later when he hit the jackpot at the Fazza IPC Athletics Grand Prix, where he won three gold medals in the javelin throw, shot put and discus throw.
India's other medal hopefuls
After the remarkable show of Indian para-athletes at the Rio Paralympics last year, where the country posted its best-ever performance by winning two gold, silver and bronze, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Deepa Malik and Varun Singh Bhati are returning to action at the World Championship in London from July 14-23.
Bhati, who won bronze in high jump in the T-42 category - a disability classification with single ‘above the knee’ amputation, said he hopes to repeat his performace at the world championship.
“I was better prepared for Rio as I was training for almost two years. As far as a medal in the World Championship is concerned, 1.80m or above can place you on the podium. I am touching 1.80m-plus in training and if all is well, I will bring another medal for the country,” the 21-year-old told Hindustan Times in an earlier interview.
Deepa Malik, who became the country’s first woman to win a medal at the Games, had to stay away from practice for a while after her father was diagnosed with cancer. But now she is back with full vigor.
“I am taking the World Championship as a build-up to next year’s Asian Games. I am also planning to focus on javelin throw and am working on speed, flexibility and shedding weight,” she said.
Rio gold medallist in javelin Devendra Jhajharia will miss the world meet as he failed to reach the qualifying mark.