More than the colour of the medal, standing on the podium mattered more to Devendra Jhajharia at the Tokyo Paralympics.
A hat-trick of gold could not be savored but the silver medal was perhaps more satisfying. It was a different kind of motivation in chasing success this year. After he all, Jhajharia wanted to win a medal for his late father, who was his pillar of strength.
His father passed away last year after being diagnosed with cancer. He was not by his side at that time and it rankles him. Jhajharia came to know about his father’s illness while he was training at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Gandhinagar. He came home but his father sent him back to continue training as he wanted his son to win another medal at the Paralympics.
“Of course, this medal belongs to the people of the country but I also want to dedicate this to my late father who had wanted me to win another medal in the Paralympics,” Jhajharia told PTI from Tokyo on Monday.
“I would not be here if it was not for my father’s efforts. It was he who pushed me to train hard and win another medal. I am happy that today I have fulfilled his dream.” The 40-year-old Jhajahria, already India’s greatest Paralympian after winning gold medals in the 2004 and 2016 Games, pulled off a new personal best throw of 64.35m for the silver in the F46 event.
Jhajahria, who lost his left hand after accidentally touching an electric wire while climbing a tree at the age of eight, bettered his own earlier world record (63.97m) but gold winner Sri Lankan Dinesh Priyan Herath Mudiyanselage (67.79m) was too good for the entire field.
He said he gave his best but admitted that it was the Sri Lankan’s day.
“In sport and competition, it happens. There is always up and down. I did my best and better my personal best. But it so happened that it was his (Sri Lankan’s) day.” Asked what will his future course of action and whether he will be in the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou in China, he said, “My competition in the Paralympics is just over and I can’t think of other things now.” “I will decide after returning home. I will talk to my family and my coach and make a plan.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked to him on phone after his silver-winning feat.
Asked what Modi told him, Jhajharia said, “He congratulated me for bringing laurels to do country. There is nothing happier than the PM of your country encouraging you to excel.
“He interacted with all of us before departing for Paralympics and now also he keeps on motivating us. This is good for the country’s sports.”