Devendra Jhajharia: The untold story of Paralympics gold medallist

New Delhi: People in India woke up today to three zealous jumps and the same number of visibly elated screams from a man amidst cheering clamors in the background; he had an amputated left hand but his eyes reflected sheer determination.

 

He is Devendra Jhajharia and he had done it again—he re-created history by breaking his own world record with a throw of 63.7m in the men's F46 Javelin Throw to bag India a second gold medal.

 

Having been born into a low-income family of Churu district in Rajasthan, Jhajharia lost his left hand after he touched an electric wire accidentally while trying to climb a tree when he was eight.

 

However, all wasn’t too bleak. His love for sports saw Jhajharia participating in para-athletics while in school in 1995, and it was that spirit he showcased in a school tournament that coach Ripudaman Singh saw and encouraged him to take it seriously. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, overcoming all the obstacles in his path.

 

Second appearance, second gold medal: both record-breakers.

 

International debut in 2002 Asian Games in Busan was a milestone for Jhajharia, whose exposure he utilised to bag his first gold medal at summer paralympic games in Athens in 2004. That was the day and today—there had been no looking back for Jhajharia.

 

His only regret was the inability to participate in subsequent 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Paralympics since the F46 classification—an impairment type for upper limb/s affected by limb deficiency, impaired muscle power or impaired range of movement—were excluded from the competition.

 

“Ye to jaise Kumbh ke mele ka intezaar hai (This is like waiting for the Kumbh mela),” the 36-year told Livemint.

 

Winner of the prestigious Arjuna award in 2005, Jhajharia became the first Paralympian to receive the fourth-highest civilian honour Padma Shri from President Pratibha Patil in 2012.

 

A couple of years later, the Railway employee in Jaipur was named the para-sportsperson of the year.