As India is still celebrating the Olympic medals and the medal winners, the next edition of the Olympics i.e. the Paralympics began on 24th Aug 2021. To add to the excitement India opened its medal tally on the 5th day of the event.
Bhavinaben Patel won a silver medal in Table Tennis and got her name added in the Paralympic medal winners of India.
Hope you got a chance to read our previous blogs around Olympic medal winners of India and the winners of the 2020 Olympics. Hence we thought it was imperative that we have a blog to celebrate India’s win at the Paralympic and the Paralympic medal winners of India.
But first, let’s have a quick history around the Paralympics.
The word Paralympics has its origin in the Greek language with Para which means alongside and Olympics. So basically it can be termed as “parallel Olympics“.
The history of Paralympics dates back to the 1948 London Olympic games, where a gentleman called Dr. Guttmann organized the first games for athletes on wheelchairs. He named these games as Stoke Mandeville games, after the Stoke Mandeville hospital. This hospital had the center to treat the patients with spinal injuries majorly during World War 2.
So basically, Stoke Mandeville games evolved from rehabilitation sport to recreational sports and finally to competitive sports. The Stoke Mandeville games later became the Paralympic games and first took place as the Paralympic games in 1960 Rome featuring 23 countries with 400 athletes.
Though the Paralympic games started in 1960, however, India made its debut at the 1968 games. Since then, India has taken part in 12 editions, and around 11 Indian athletes making their way to the podium.
We will discuss each event in this blog and find out the Paralympic medal winners of India.
1960, 1964 & 1968 Paralympics
India did not participate in the 1960 & 1964 events and hence there were no Paralympic medal winners of India in these games. India participated for the first time in the 1968 Paralympics, however, did not win any medals.
The 1972 Paralympics happened in Heidelberg, Germany.
Murlikant Petkar became the first Paralympic gold medalist for India. Hence, he also became the first of the few Paralympic medal winners of India.
He won the Gold medal in the 50m freestyle swimming event and set a world record at that time in the event.
Murlikant Petkar was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India in 2018.
1976 & 1980 Paralympics
India did not participate in the 1976 & 1980 Paralympics. Hence there were no Paralympic medal winners of India in these 2 games.
The 1984 Paralympics held in Stoke Mandeville/New York was one of the best performances of India with respect to the number of medals. India got 4 medals which were bagged by 2 Paralympic medal winners of India in these games.
Joginder Singh Bedi won 3 medals in 3 individual events – Silver medal in Men’s shot put and Bronze medal in men’s javelin and men’s discus throw.
Bhimrao Kesarkar won a silver medal for India in the javelin throw event.
1988 to 2000 Paralympics
This was a lull period for India as there were no Paralympic medal winners of India in these events.
The 2004 Paralympics held in Athens gave 2 Paralympic medal winners of India.
Devendra Jhajaria got a gold medal in the javelin throw event and became the second gold medalist for India in the Paralympics.
Rajinder Singh Rahelu got the bronze medal in the powerlifting event under the 56kg category and hence got his name registered in the Paralympic medal winners of India.
The 2008 Paralympic games in Beijing did not bring any good news for India as the games did not produce any Paralympic medal winners of India.
The 2012 Paralympics gave India a medal in the Men’s high jump event. Girisha Nagarajegowda, got the silver medal and got his name added to the Paralympic medal winners of India.
The 2016 Paralympics held in Rio de Janeiro were again a very successful event in India, as the event produced 4 Paralympic medal winners of India. India got 2 gold medals, 1 silver, and 1 bronze medal in different events.
Deepa Malik became the first Indian medal winner at Paralympics by winning a silver medal in the women’s shot put event. Varun Singh Bhati got the bronze medal in the high jump event.
Mariyappan Thangavelu got the gold medal for India in the Men’s high jump event. Devendra Jhajharia clinched the gold medal in the javelin throw event and became the first Indian to win gold medals in different Paralympics.
Though we should admit that the Paralympic games are not given equal attention as is given to the Olympic games. However, these games symbolize inspiration and motivation. It provides a platform for people with special abilities to come and show their mettle and inspire others in the journey.
We should back the Paralympic athletes and celebrate their victories as we celebrate the Olympic medal winners. In fact, we need to celebrate the Paralympic medal winners even more as their win can also help in changing the attitude of people towards disabled people.
Anyways, right now let’s back the team in Tokyo for more victories and accolades. The medal tally for India has begun and we hope there will be more additions to it.
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