Sports Minister Anurag Thakur on Friday felicitated the just-returned Paralympic medallists of the country, including javelin throwers Sumit Antil and Devendra Jhajaria, hoping the sport will become popular like cricket in years to come.
Close on the heels of Neeraj Kumar’s historic javelin gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics, Antil, Jhajharia and Sunder Singh Gurjar brought more laurels to the country with their medals in javelin at the ongoing Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Debutant Antil smashed his own world record multiple times for the F64 class gold, while veteran Jhajharia and Gurjar won silver and bronze medals respectively in the F46 category on last Monday.
“I hope javelin in India will now become as famous as a cricket bat,” Thakur, a former BCCI president, said during felicitation.
Other para athletes present on the occasion were Yogesh Kathuniya (Discus Throw F56 silver medal) and Sharad Kumar (High Jump T63 bronze medal).
Thakur promised all possible support to the country’s athletes from the Narendra Modi-led central government.
“On National Sports Day, India clinched four medals and there can’t be a better tribute than this to Major Dhyan Chand ji. There is a lot of hard work by the athletes combined with the support given by government to the National Sports Federations and athletes. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji’s encouragement has been a driving force,” the minister said.
“Government will improve the sports ecosystem in the country and through schemes like TOPS, it will keep supporting the athletes (both core and development) in an unprecedented way,” Thakur said.
Jhajharia and Kumar thanked the government for the support they received in their Paralympic Games campaign.
“In the last four years, the government has supported us in a great way. PM Modi ji’s interaction with us also boosted our morale and we felt motivated this time,” Jhajharia said.
Kumar added: “This was a very difficult Paralympics because we did not know whether Games will happen or not. We are very happy that the government adopted us and offered us great support through Target Olympic Podium Scheme.
“The government is working tirelessly to support us and all our sports-centric and reasonable requests are being approved quickly.”