World Para Athletics C’ships: Sumit Antil, Mariyappan and others gear up for strong show in Paris

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New Delhi, July 9

A 48-member Indian contingent, spearheaded by Paralympic javelin champion Sumit Antil, is all geared up to put up a strong show at the Paris 2023 World Para Athletics Championships that kicked off on Saturday.

Antil, competing in men's javelin F64 category, is joined by seasoned and Paralympic stars Thangavelu Mariyappan and Sharad Kumar (both men's high jump T63), young high jumpers Praveen Kumar (T64) and Nishad Kumar (T47) besides promising Yogesh Kathunia (discus throw F56).

For Antil, it will be his first international competition since his record-breaking show at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. He has participated in a couple of national events including the recent Federation Cup, where he pulled off an impressive world record.

The 25-year-old, who won a silver in 2019 Para World championships in Dubai, has focused on his fitness and training for the last two years and is aiming to change the colour of his medal in Paris.

"The preparation has been very satisfying. I am looking ahead to have a great competition with the sole focus on getting my personal best. In Dubai, I got a silver so I will be looking to change the colour of the medal in Paris. I have performed in the Charlety Stadium before and have had good results. So, I am looking forward to continuing that run here,” said Antil, who will be in action on July 13.

Meanwhile, Dubai 2019 stars Sandeep Chaudhary and Sundar Singh Gurjar would be all out to defend their men's javelin F44 and F46 titles respectively, at the Stade Charlety Stadium in Paris.

Among other top names in the team include seasoned star Ekta Bhyan, Asian Para Games champion in women’s discus throw and rising athlete Simran Sharma and Nimisha C.S in track and field events.

Accompanying coach Satyapal Singh highlighted that the Indian team is bigger as compared to last addition Dubai 2019 (32 para-athletes).

"This time the Indian contingent is expected to finish in the top 10 with 15 medals," the coach said.

In the 2019 edition in Dubai, India had its biggest-ever haul with nine medals including two gold, two silver and five bronze to finish at the 24th position.

Meanwhile, seasoned discus and club thrower Ekta was hoping for a medal winning show in Paris, which she missed out in the last Worlds and in Tokyo Paralympics.

"It is my first major event after the Tokyo Paralympics, where I couldn’t perform my best. Hence, I am looking forward to the World Championship with excitement and hope. In the past two years, I have improved my throwing distance both at International and National events and I am confident to perform my new personal best at World Championship also, with a medal," said Bhyan, who will be in action in women’s club throw 51 final on July 16.

Over 1,300 athletes from 107 nations are competing in 168 medals events in the French capital Paris until 17 July.

--IANS

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