New Delhi, Sep 3 India’s new golden boy in javelin throw (F-64) at the Paralympic Games, Sumit Antil, along with javelin stalwart Devendra Jhajharia — winner of silver medal in Tokyo — arrived to a warm reception at the Indira Gandhi International airport here late on Thursday night.
While there were fewer fans and followers at the airport compared to when the likes of Neeraj Chopra and other Olympic athletes arrived from Tokyo less than a month back, because of the late arrival of the flight and the stringent Covid-19 protocols at the airport, the Paralympic athletes were still mobbed, with Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) and Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials and fans turning up in large numbers to welcome the heroes.
The likes of Antil, Jhajharia and Yogesh Kathuniya, who won silver in discus throw, were greeted with garlands and bouquets the moment they cleared immigration and arrived in the arrival lounge past midnight.
The usual celebratory rituals ensued as they emerged from the lounge to the deafening sound of ‘dhols’ and drums reverberating from one end of the airport to the other. ‘Pillars’ made from balloons in the colours of the tri-colour were erected on both sides of the arrival gate, and with banners and colourful placards all round, it was a truly memorable welcome for the Paralympic heroes.
Sumit Antil had set a new world record on his way to a gold medal in the javelin throw – F64 final, hurling the spear to 68.55 metres, improving on his old mark of 62.88 set in November 2019.
Double Paralympic Games gold medallist Devendra Jhajaria’s hopes of extending his legacy by winning the third gold did not materialise as the Indian had to be satisfied with a silver medal in the Javelin Throw F46 category, but on Thursday night, all that disappointment would have been lost after the memorable reception given to him and his fellow para-athletes.