2022 Asian Para Games: India start in style with three golds

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India began their Asian Para Games campaign in Hangzhou on Monday with three golds, won by Pranab Sorma (club throw F51), Shailesh Kumar (T63 high jump) and Nishad Kumar (T47 high jump).

India won three medals in the men’s club throw F51 event with Pranab Sorma winning gold on the first day of athletics competition at the Hangzhou Asian Para Games here on Monday.

The 29-year-old Surma broke the Asian Para Games record to win the gold with an effort of 30.01m while Dharambir (28.76m) and Amit Kumar (26.93m) finished second and third respectively.

There were only four competitors in the event, with Saudi Arabia’s Radhi Ali Alharthi finishing last with a throw of 23.77m.

Sorma suffered a spinal cord injury after an accident when he was 16 and it left him paralyzed. But this did not stop him from taking up para sports and he won a silver medal at the 2019 Beijing World Para Athletics Grand Prix event.

The F51 Club Throwing event is for athletes who involve a high degree of movement in the trunk, legs and arms. All competitors compete in a seated position and rely on their shoulders and arms to generate power.

Three Indians also finished 1-2-3 in the men’s high jump T63 category but received only gold and silver awards under Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) rules.

Three Indians were the only competitors in the event and under APC’s ‘minus one rule’, Shailesh Kumar won gold with an Asian Para Games record jump of 1.82m and Mariappan Thangavelu (1.80m) won silver. Govindbhai Ramsinghbhai Padhyar (1.78m) cannot win bronze as per APC norms.

At least four athletes must be in the frame to get three medals.

“In exceptional cases where only three or less athletes compete, a medal will be awarded following the ‘minus-one rule’. For example, if an event is finalized by only 2 athletes/teams, only gold medals will be awarded, ” as per APC rule book.

Kumar, 23, won silver at the World Para Athletics Championships earlier this year while Thangavelu was fourth. Both have qualified for next year’s Paris Paralympics. Thangavelu won a gold medal in the high jump T42 category at the 2016 Rio Paralympics and a silver medal in T63 at the Tokyo Paralympics.

In the T63 classification, athletes with one leg above the knee compete with a prosthesis.

Nishad Kumar bagged his third gold of the day in the men’s high jump T47 class as he cleared a height of 2.02m while compatriot Ram Pal bagged the bronze with an effort of 1.94m. The T47 classification is meant for athletes with elbow or wrist dislocations or impairments.

Manu Ghangas won the bronze medal in the men’s shot put F11 event with an effort of 12.33m.

In the women’s canoe VL2 event, Prachi Yadav won silver with a time of 1:03.147

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