New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) Paralympic medalists including commuter Suhas Yathiraj believe the Tokyo Games were a watershed moment for parasports in India as the country’s magnificent spectacle in the Japanese capital encouraged people to a career in sport, which is evidence of the increased participation in national tournaments.
The Indian contingent made Tokyo Paralympic Games history by winning 19 medals, including five gold, which helped them finish 24th overall, the highest of all time.
“It was a game-changing move for badminton at Tokyo 2020. We have an important tournament coming up and I’m sure increased interest will bode well for the sport,” said Suhas, who is the district magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar (Noida), during a virtual media interaction on Tuesday.
“If you look at the increase in attendance at the national championships which was held in Odisha, it was very high. The interest in badminton is extremely high as it is a very easy sport for beginners. -badminton is reaching new heights in India and around the world,” he added.
Commuter Pramod Bhagat, who won a gold medal in the men’s singles SL3 event at the Paralympic Games, said he was amazed to see the increased attendance at the national championships held in Odisha.
“This time more than 500 athletes came for the nationals, we were completely surprised by the number. Previously there would be 300-350.
“Para badminton got more refined after Tokyo. The excitement increased at the Olympics and doubled during the Paralympics. We also took a big step and the most important thing was that we stayed on the same platform than the Olympians,” Bhagat said.
Harvinder Singh, who became the first Indian to win a Paralympic medal in archery, believes that people will now indulge in different Paralympic sports.
“There are still a lot of events that India hasn’t participated in. The recognition we get after the medal will also help (for people who play other Paralympic sports).
“It used to be cricket was the popular sport but then the medals started coming in athletics and now we have the first ones in archery. So I think in the times to come people will be inspired (for practice more parasports)
The Tokyo bronze medalist added that even the National Para-Archery Championships, which were postponed due to COVID-19, had seen an increase in player registrations.
“Our national championships were postponed but the number of entries was huge thanks to the recognition of the Paralympics.”
However, Suhas believes a lot can still be done in para-badminton as well as other sports.
“India’s participation in a wheelchair category was zero so we have to make sure our wheelchair players have an opportunity.
“State-level associations need to be professionally run. They need to tie funding to different things like CSR and identify talent at the state and district levels and then provide opportunities,” he said. -he adds.
India can finish in Top 3 in athletics at Paris Paralympic Games
Three-time Paralympic medalist javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia believes India can finish in the top three in athletics at the Paralympic Games in Paris.
The 40-year-old, who added a silver in Tokyo to his two gold medals, said: “China and Iran are ahead of us in athletics and at number 3, several countries like Japan and Korea are there.
“But I think with the government providing facilities and the way the kids are training, our target will be to finish in the top 3. We can certainly do well in athletics.”
The Paralympians above are part of the International Institute of Sports Management’s initiative in which 18 of Tokyo’s Olympic and Paralympic Games medalists came together to recite the national anthem in a video, which was released on Monday . PTI APA TO