Indian Paralympic medalists return home to tumultuous welcome
Four Indian para-athletes, including javelin throw gold medalist Sumit Antil, on Friday returned home to a never-seen-before boisterous welcome during which supporters and media jostled to catch a glimpse of them at the New Delhi airport. Chaotic scenes unfolded at the Indira Gandhi International Airport as fans and an army of media persons disregarded COVID-19 protocols to get hold of four para-athletes, especially Antil.
Devendra Jhajharia, Yogesh Kathuniya, Sharad Kumar also accorded warm welcome
Apart from Sumit, three-time Paralympic medalist javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, who won silver this time, silver-medalist in discus throw Yogesh Kathuniya, and Sharad Kumar, who won bronze in the high jump in the Tokyo Paralympics, were also given a warm welcome.
"Our Champions are back home and are overjoyed at their arrival. Love & wishes are pouring in for @sumit_javelin @DevJhajharia @YogeshKathuniya @sharad_kumar01," Sports Authority of India (SAI) wrote in a tweet. The four athletes were welcomed enthusiastically by SAI officials, who garlanded them and presented them with bouquets on arrival. The athletes, displaying their medals, posed for photograph even as fans waved the tricolor.
Fans played drums outside the airport to celebrate their victory
Moreover, the fans also played drums to celebrate their medal-winning feats outside the airport. Supporters, many of them without masks, looked to outpace each other in garlanding the four athletes as they walked out of the airport even as media persons battled to get reactions from the heroes. This is the first time that India has hit the double-digit mark at the showpiece.
India's medal tally at Tokyo Paralympics soared to 12
Notably, Antil had smashed his world record five times for the F64 class gold, while Jhajharia cemented his status of being India's greatest para-athlete with an F46 category silver. Kathuniya won a discus throw silver in the F56 class, while Kumar claimed a T42 high jump bronze. India's medal tally at the Games has soared to an unprecedented 12 already, including two gold medals.