12-member Indian contingent, including Jhajharia, departs for Tokyo Paralympics

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Veteran Devendra Jhajharia and reigning world champion Sandeep Chaudhary were among five javelin throwers in a 12-strong Indian contingent that left for Tokyo on Wednesday to compete in the Paralympics. The contingent also included two high jumpers — Nishad Kumar and Ram Pal — and discus thrower Yogesh Kathuniya.

One of the top medal prospects, Jhajharia had won the gold medal in Athens and Rio Paralympics.

The 40-year-old javelin thrower had rewritten his world record of 63.97m when he sent the spear to a distance of 65.71m in a qualifying event in June.

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His main competition comes from compatriots Ajit Singh and Sundar Gurjar. With a little bit of luck, India could grab all three medals in the men’s F-46 category, which is for athletes with arm deficiency, impaired muscle power or impaired passive range of movement in arms while competing in a standing position.

After Neeraj Chopra’s historic performance at the Tokyo Olympics, javelin throwers have been in the limelight.

“Neeraj’s gold medal has put the spotlight on javelin throwers and being the senior most of the lot, I can say this with assurance that after Tokyo Paralympics, javelin (throw) will be the second most popular game in this country after cricket,” Jhajharia said.

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Focus will also be on Chaudhary and Sumit Antil in the men’s F64 category in which they are ranked world number one and two respectively. The F-64 classification is for athletes with a leg amputation, who compete with prosthetics in a standing position.

Track and field events begin on August 27.

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