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Tokyo Paralympics 2021: 2 golds, 2 silvers, 1 bronze -- recapping one of Indian sport's most iconic days

ESPN India

A madcap, manic Monday for India at the Paralympics. In the space of a few hours, history was made, records shattered, the age barrier too (at both ends). And, counting Sunday's feats, India matched their entire medals tally between 1988 and 2016 -- seven medals -- in just two days. Including, for the first time, two golds in one day.

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Sumit Antil became just the second Indian after Devendra Jhajharia to win a Paralympics gold in javelin throw - and he rewrote the world record three times over the course of the final and the four biggest throws in the final all belonged to him.

Avani Lekhara became the first Indian woman to win gold at the Paralympics - and, at 19, the youngest Indian ever to medal at the Olympics or Paralympics.

At the other end of the age spectrum, Devendra Jhajharia became, at 40, the oldest Indian man to medal at the Paralympics. More significant: he's now the only athlete in history to win three medals in the F46 javelin throw category at the Paralympics and one of only two Indians to win three medals at the Paralympics.

Sundar Singh Gurjar shrugged off the disappointment of the 2016 Rio Paralympics, where he was the pre-tournament favourite, to win an Olympic bronze in the same event as Jhajharia.

Yogesh Kathuniya, competing without a coach, won a discus throw silver.

Here's how this monumental Monday played out:

4:45 AM IST - Golden Girl Lekhara

Avani Lekhara wins gold in the women's 10m air rifle standing SH1 event on Monday at Tokyo.

Lekhara becomes just the fourth Indian to win gold at a Paralympics after Murlikant Petkar (swimming), Devendra Jhajharia (javelin throw) and Mariyappan Thangavelu (high jump). She's also only the third Indian woman to medal at a Paralympics after Deepa Malik (shot put) and Bhavinaben Patel (table tennis), who both won silver.

She won it in some style too -- equaling the world record and setting a new Paralympic record while shooting an impressive total of 249.6. She had earlier finished seventh in the qualification round. And she beat some quality competition while at it -- China's Zhang Cuiping who won silver with a total of 248.9 is the defending champion, while Ukraine's Iryna Shchetnik who won bronze with a score of 227.5 is the world no.1 and reigning world champion. Zhang and Shchetnik had earlier finished first and second respectively in the qualification round with identical scores of 626, setting a new qualifying Paralympic record in the process.

India's first individual Olympic gold medalist, Abhinav Bindra, had played a key role in Lekhara's entry into sport. A major car accident in 2012 had injured her spinal cord, making her dependent on a wheelchair. Three years on, after her father's encouragement, she decided to try out her hand in professional shooting and archery. As luck would have it, she got inspired to take the former seriously after reading Bindra's autobiography, A Shot At History.

6.30 AM IST - Silver for Kathuniya

Yogesh Kathuniya improved on his bronze-winning effort from the last World Championships to win silver in the men's F56 discus throw event with a throw of 44.38m. He finished behind Brazil's Claudiney Batista dos Santos, who set a new Paralympic record with a throw of 45.59m. Cuba's Leonardo Diaz won bronze with a best throw of 43.36m.

Speaking to reporters after the event, Kathuniya said he had to train without a coach in the lead up to the Games -- "In the last 18 months, the preparations have been very tough. In India, there was a six month lockdown, so every stadium was closed. When I could return to the stadium on a daily basis, I had to practice by myself. I couldn't have a coach then and I am still training without a coach. It was a great moment that I could win the silver medal without a coach."

Kathuniya had suffered a paralytic attack at the age of 8, which left him with impaired limb coordination. However, that didn't keep him away from sport, and soon he developed an interest in both the discus and javelin events. Last year, competing in his first international event, Kathuniya set a then world record of 45.18m to win gold at the Para Athletics Grand Prix in Berlin.

7.45 AM IST - Jhajharia GOATness and Gurjar bronze

Devendra Jhajharia wins silver in the men's F46 javelin throw event, with a personal best of 64.01m. Behind him, in bronze, is two-time reigning world champion Sundar Singh Gurjar (a throw of 64.01m). Sri Lanka's Dinesh Herath won gold after shattering Jhajharia's world record with a throw of 67.79m.

Jhajharia, 40 years old now, continues to defy age and convention. He was eight when his left arm had to be amputated up to the elbow after he accidentally touched an 11000 volt live cable.

What makes Jhajharia's achievements even more creditable is the fact that both his previous golds at the Paralympics came after breaking the existing world record. Jhajharia improved on his world record this time too but Herath threw further than him to win gold.

Sundar Singh Gurjar, meanwhile, used to compete in the general category before he lost his left palm in a home accident in 2015. He then began competing in the para sports F46 category - in which athletes with arm deficiency, impaired muscle power or impaired passive range of movement in arms compete in a standing position.

In the 2016 Paralympics, he had failed to understand the announcer's accent, reached 52 seconds late for the start of the javelin throw event and had been disqualified. The incident had taken its toll on Gurjar, who said that he had entered a period of depression during which he didn't want to train and even contemplated quitting sport altogether. But a strong comeback started with three golds in the 2017 season opener before peaking with a bronze at his second Paralympics.

4.45 PM IST - Sumit Antil goes on record-breaking spree

Sumit Antil capped it all with a fine performance in the F64 javelin - winning gold with a throw of 68.55m.

Sumit, from Khewra village near Haryana's Sonepat, had originally planned to become a wrestler but those dreams were shattered after his left leg was amputated following a road accident. After months in hospital, a prosthetic leg revived his sporting dreams, gave him the confidence to compete with national stars and, at the Indian GP in March this year, he broke the world record for the first time.

After it all, he was rather modest when speaking to interviewers - "This is my first Paralympics and I was a little nervous because the competitors are great. I was hoping for a 70-metre-plus throw, maybe I can do 75m. It was not my best, [but] I am very happy to break the world record."

With this, four of India's 14 medals at the Paralympics and Olympics this year have come in the javelin throw.