Indian Olympic Committee is sending the biggest-ever array of participants at Rio Paralympics 2016 that started on 7th September and are expected to continue till 18th September. India will be hoping for a better performance this time with 19 Indian athletes in all taking part in 10 disciplines. Union Sports Ministry has already announced that athletes who win gold medals at the Games will be awarded a purse of INR 75 lakh each, the silver medallists will receive INR 50 lakh each, and the bronze medal winners will get INR 30 lakh each.
For Jhajharia, the first Indian javelin thrower to clinch a gold medal at Athens Paralympics 2004, this will be the fourth Paralympics and it is expected that he will be able to achieve a podium finish yet again.
Rio Paralympics 2016
This edition of Paralympics will see 23 events in all with 4300 athletes from around the world taking part in the same. The events may be enumerated as below:
- Table tennis
- Para canoe
- Wheelchair basketball
- Football (five-a-side and seven-a-side)
- Wheelchair fencing
- Wheelchair tennis
- Wheelchair rugby
All the sports – with the exception of canoe-kayak and triathlon that will make their debut at this year’s event – have been there at the previous years as well.
Categories of impairment
There are certain categories of impairment as determined by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that are necessary in order to be regarded as being eligible to take part in the Paralympics. They may be mentioned as below:
- impaired muscle power
- impaired passive range of movement
- limb deficiency
- leg length difference
- vision impairment
- short stature
- intellectual impairment
India at Paralympic Games
Till date, India has won eight medals at these Games. This includes a couple of gold medals, and three silver and bronze medals each. It has won most of its medals in athletics – a gold medal, all the silver medals, and a couple of bronze medals. It also holds one gold medal in swimming and a bronze medal in power-lifting.
Men’s team at Rio Paralympics 2016
The following table enumerates the members of the men’s team being sent by IOC at Rio Paralympics 2016 and the disciplines that they are competing in:
|Mariyappan Thangavelu||High jump|
|Varun Singh Bhati||High jump|
|Sharad Kumar||High jump|
|Rampal Chahar||High jump|
|Sundar Singh Gurjar||Javelin|
|Amit Kumar Saroha||Club throw|
|Naresh Kumar Sharma||Shooting|
|Suyash Narayan Jadhav||Swimming|
|Ankur Dhama||1500 m|
|Virender Dhanka||Javelin and shotput|
As part of the women’s contingent, Pooja will be taking part in archery, Karamjyoti Dalal will participate in discus throw, and Deepa Malik will represent India in shotput.
The first question that needs to be asked here is, how many people know Devendra Jhajharia outside his immediate circle and the people related to the association he is representing. We all celebrate Abhinav Bindra, as we should rightly do, but what about the first gold medallist in Paralympic Games? Should we not know – let alone celebrate – this wonderful athlete who, in spite of his perceived limitations, has only brought glory to the country with his exploits?
A bigger area of concern in this case is the muted media attention awarded to these wonderful sportspersons who face much greater and different challenges than their able-bodied counterparts. The media in India devotes millions of pages to the supposed failure of Olympic athletes, yet there is no news about the success achieved by these neglected performers.
It is also strange that Paralympics are held as an afterthought to the Summer Olympics. Instead of organizing a separate event for them, why can’t International Olympic Committee run them parallel to the Olympic Games? Paralympics never get the sort of attention they deserve; especially in a country like India that performs well at these Games there is not much media attention. Perhaps because it is not as newsworthy as the failure and subsequent bashing/sympathising of fellow Olympians. Sponsors, too, are few and far between, since perhaps for them the players are not worthy of their time and attention.
They can’t whip up a frenzy of fervent patriotism as they can do with the Olympic programme where the stars are already known. At least, organizing them as part of Olympics would ensure that they are part of mainstream and more people would come to know about them, their talent and the sport they represent. In future, this would ensure that there is sufficient interest in the Indian market for this event and more corporate and business houses would come forward and associate themselves with the brand.
This will also probably be great for the para-athletes who are used to excelling without getting any fame for their efforts. Just imagine Devendra Jhajharia in the march-past with the likes of Deepika Karmakar, Sakshi Malik, and PV Sindhu! How vindicated they would feel! These athletes sure deserve to be there and they need to be helped and made to feel a part of the fraternity and not shunted away because of some ill-perceived differences.
Why the performance of India is so poor in Olympics?
India Performance in Rio Olympics 2016
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna for PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar, Jitu Rai
What India can learn from Dipa Karmakar
Biography of Devendra Jhajharia
Biography of P.V. Sindhu
Biography of Sakshi Malik