ESPN India Awards 2017: Who will become the Differently-Abled Athlete of the Year?

ESPN.in Awards: Para-Athlete Of The Year (1:35)

Nominees for Para-Athlete of 2017. (1:35)

From Sundar Singh Gurjar's story of heartbreak turning into golden glory to 31-year-old Pooja Agarwal rising above all odds, here are ESPN India's nominations for the Differently-Abled Athlete of the Year.

Sundar Singh Gurjar

What they did in 2017

World record holder Sundar Singh Gurjar missed out on competing at the 2016 Rio Paralympics when he showed up late for the javelin throw event. After a period of depression, Gurjar returned to competition and more than made up for Rio by becoming the first Indian to win a gold in the javelin (F-46) at the World Para Athletics Championship in 2017. Gurjar has also expanded his repertoire of events, winning three gold medals at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix - in javelin, shot put and discus throw.

In their own words

"It is a big thing to be the first Indian to win gold at the world championships. It will motivate me for next year's Asian Games and Commonwealth Games."

- Sundar Singh Gurjar after winning a gold medal at the World Para Athletics Championships.

Amit Kumar Saroha

What they did in 2017

The first quadriplegic to represent India at Paralympic Games, Amit Kumar Saroha's best throw of 30.25m, which came in his third attempt, fetched him a silver medal in the men's club throw F51 category of the World Para Athletics Championships. It was to be the new Asian record. Amit, a former junior hockey player, had won silver in the last edition of the biennial competition in 2015.

In their own words

"There was a time disabled people were looked upon as a burden on their families, but para-sports has changed all that. Now, the same families take pride in their achievements."

- Amit on the changing scenario and wider acceptance of para athletes in India.

Pooja Agarwal

What they did in 2017

Pooja Agarwal began shooting not long after she suffered a trilateral amputation following a severe accident in 2012. The 31-year-old has only gone from strength-to-strength competing in the 10m pistol event. Competing in her first international event at the Para Sport Shooting World Cup, she won silver in the 10m air pistol standing event. She had earlier won gold medals at the 2015 Shooting Nationals and the 2016 GV Mavlankar Shooting Championships.

In their own words

"When society sets boundaries on what you can do, you can either sit within them or push them even further. When you push those boundaries, you can inspire people."

- Pooja Agarwal on inspiring people.

Karamjyoti Dalal

What they did in 2017

After three unsuccessful throws at the Rio Paralympics, Karamjyoti Dalal brought home a bronze medal with a season-best effort of 19.02m in the women's F55 category of discus throw at the World Para Athletics Championships. Karamjyoti, who played kabaddi at the national level before a fateful fall turned her paraplegic, also won gold in the women's wheelchair shot put F-55 category at the International IPC Athletics Grand Prix earlier in the year.

In their own words

"I have left Rio behind. The target is Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and my aim is to get past the 20m mark."

- Karamjyoti on setting new goals.

Sharad Kumar

What they did in 2017

Sharad Kumar won silver in the T42 category at the World Para Athletics Championships in London after he cleared a height of 1.84m to finish behind Rio silver medallist Sam Grewe who cleared 1.86m to win the Gold medal. Interestingly, Sharad had also led for a long duration in the same event at the 2016 Rio Paralympics before eventually finishing sixth.

In their own words

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported my journey and helped me on my journey, and especially the GoSports Foundation for funding my high performance training before this tournament."

- Sharad after his medal-winning effort at the Worlds

Avani Lekhara

What they did in 2017

Wheelchair-bound since being involved in an accident in 2012, 16-year-old Avani Lekhara took to shooting at 13 after being inspired by Abhinav Bindra's biography. In just her second Para Shooting World Cup in Al Ain, she won the silver medal in 10m air rifle standing, setting a new junior world record in the process. She won a bronze in the same event at the World Cup in Bangkok in November to round off her maiden year in senior competition.

In their own words

"I am not very happy with my performance. I feel I could have done better in the finals."

- Avani Lekhara, quoted by the website Indian Shooting after her maiden World Cup outing.