Javelin thrower Sumit Antil produced a brilliant performance at the Tokyo Paralympics on Monday as he won the gold medal obliterating his own world record in the Men’s Javelin F64 category with a throw of 68.55m. He broke his world record not once, not twice but three times during the course of his six throws. Such was Antil’s dominance that his shortest throw in the final was bettered only by a single throw by Michal Burian of Australia who claimed silver.
The gold medallist spoke his heart out on just his golden feat but also on what lies ahead for the youth of India. Here are some of the excerpts from exclusive conversation with CNN News18’s Payal Mehta.
How did it feel to lay your hands on the medal?
I do not know how to express it in words but it was an extremely special feeling and I have no words to say that.
Did you realise that you are breaking not just one but three world records?
I had told myself from yesterday itself that I have to break my own record from the word go. When I got the first throw it was 66.95. I was focused on crossing the 70 m mark even if it meant that I had confirm the gold medal but still I took that extra shot to aim & was able to achieve 70.
What kind of preparation has got into it?
The last two years have been very difficult because of Covid. During the lockdown in 2020 I used to practise in the fields in my village and there was a new road that was being constructed which had soil on it so I practised for at least three months on that after which I got permission from sports Authority of India to go to the centre but this intense practice while in the village give me a lot of confidence. It was very difficult because I am used to doing that through on the synthetic turf and because of my leg I found it very difficult to run on the grass and throw but I did not give up and put my entire focus on correcting the smallest of my mistakes. I still believe I can do better but I can say that I put in a lot of effort.
Was podium finish a special feeling?
I have broken world records before but this was a different feeling for the first time in my life I got a sense that I have achieved something and that happened when I was standing at the podium with the national flag around me and the national anthem playing.
How did it feel when you spoke to the Prime Minister and that the Prime Minister has been very hands-on in following intricacies of various sports?
I knew that the Prime Minister speaks to those athletes who win medals but when it came to my own turn I was really nervous is actually a dream come true to be able to speak to ones Prime Minister and that too on a special occasion when I won the gold medal for the country the Prime Minister has assured me of all support in the future as well and has congratulated my family and me.
Did it feel special to talk to the family tonight?
I spoke to my family members on video call. In fact I called him two times but they were busy and they did not pick up my phone I spoke to them they were very happy especially the pride in my mother’s eyes is the most special.
Any special demand when you return home?
I am a very disciplined athlete and not a foodie I focus very carefully on what I eat but since this is a special location I am sure my mother will make some special Mithai for me.
What is your message to the budding youth of the country?
I want to tell them that they should focus on their goals and not worry too much about the opponent but play to their own strength and that makes them the best of their performance and that is all that matters any work done with hundred percent effort will always yield good result.
Who would have thought of javelin before Neeraj showed it in the Olympics and now we have three medals in one day?
It was in the year 2016 after watching Neeraj Chopra that I also realised that there is a sport called javelin throw but since then I have worked very hard and I must admit that even if the awareness in India is not all that great India has been able to produce world-class javelin throwers and we have delivered in medals so I am hoping with more awareness been created will have better players and more medals.
What are the plans of celebration when you are back home?
We look forward to celebrating tomorrow after one of our other colleagues also gets a medal and I’m really looking forward to going back home because people in my village in Sonipat a very excited and they had told me from the beginning that make sure you return with a medal.