A historic gold and silver finish at the Yoyogi National Stadium capped off the country’s remarkable Paralympics and Olympics Games show.
India concluded its campaign with an astonishing 19 medals, including five gold, to finish 24th among 162 participating nations in the overall tally on the basis of gold medal count. The country was placed 20th based on the total numbers of medals (19) won. The medal count also included eight silver and six bronze.
India had sent its largest contingent-ever with 54 para athletes competing in nine sporting disciplines. Seventeen of them left Tokyo with medals, including multiple winners – shooters Avani Lakhera (gold-bronze) and Singhraj Adhana (silver-bronze).
Nagar and Yathiraj’s medals shone brighter on Sunday — Teachers’ Day here in India, and fittingly, their personal and national coach, Gaurav Khanna, was watching his wards from the sidelines make history in their debut Games.
“This is the happiest moment in my life. I couldn’t have asked for more on a Teachers’ Day than winning a gold medal for my Coach sir,” said Nagar.
“An athlete always dreams of climbing the podium at the Olympics or Paralympics. And here I am, with a gold. I can’t describe my feelings when the national anthem was being played and the tri-colour went up,” said Jaipur-born Nagar, who roared back after losing the second game to beat Hong Kong China’s, Chu Man Kai, 21-17, 16-21, 21-17 in men’s Singles SH6 class.
Nagar won India’s second gold and fifth overall medal from the badminton courts after Pramod Bhagat’s 24-carat winning performance against his old rival, Daniel Bethell of Great Britain, a day earlier. He dedicated his medal to Covid-19 warriors.
“During Covid, the doctors, volunteers and all others have worked relentlessly for us in the last two years, saving us from the pandemic. They have supported us so much in 2020. All over the world, doctors have shown us how to be alert.”
Fighting the pandemic via his office in Noida all of last year, and the battle far from over, Yathiraj scripted a little success story of his own.
The bureaucrat, currently posted as the GB Nagar DM, may have seen his dream run at the Games snapped up by France’s world No.1 Lucas Mazur, and go down 21-15, 17-21, 15-21 in the final of men’s Singles SL4 class to settle for silver, but it still worth its weight in gold.
India endured a heartbreak in the two bronze medal playoffs in badminton when Tarun Dhillon went down 21-17, 21-11 to Indonesia’s Fredy Seitiawan in men’s SL4 class and, later, the scratch mixed doubles pair of Bhagat and Palak Kohli lost to Japan’s Fujihara Daisuke and Akiko Sugino 21-23, 19-21.
There was further disappointment from the Asaka Shooting Range as Sidhartha Babu narrowly missed out on booking a berth for the eight-man final of the R6 – Mixed 50m Air Rifle Prone SH1 after finishing ninth in the qualifying stage. Avani ended 28th while Deepak Kumar was placed far behind at 46th.