Indians at the Paralympic Games

Unlike the Summer Olympics, where India’s early success was mostly dominated by the all-conquering Indian hockey team, the Paralympics have seen individual athletes step up to the plate to bring the country honour and glory.

India has won 12 medals in 11 editions of the Paralympic Games since their inception in 1960, including four gold, four silver, and four bronze.

All Indians who have won a medal at the Paralympics are listed here.

1. Murlikant Petkar

Murlikant Petkar won gold in the men’s 50m freestyle 3 event at the 1972 Heidelberg Games. To earn the top award, the Indian para swimmer set a new world record of 37.33 seconds. Murlikant Petkar, a jawan in the Indian Army’s Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers (EME), was a boxer who later switched to swimming after losing an arm to a bullet injury.

Petkar, who was born on November 1, 1947, in Peth Islampur in the Sangli district of what is now Maharashtra, has been a sportsman since he was a child. He used to participate in sports even before the damaging experience in the 1965 conflict. In 1964, he was chosen to compete in boxing for India at the International Services Sports Meet in Tokyo.

In 1975, Maharashtra’s greatest athletic honour, the Shiv Chhatrapati Award, was bestowed upon Petkar by the state government. But the man has never been content to rest on his laurels, always striving to exceed his prior achievements.

In 2018, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour.

2. Bhimrao Kesarkar

With a throw of 34.55 metres, Bhimrao Kesarkar took silver in the men’s javelin throw L6. The Indian swimmer also competed in the men’s 100m freestyle L6 event, but was unable to progress past the preliminary round, finishing sixth in his heat.

3. Joginder Singh Bedi

Joginder Singh Bedi is India’s most decorated Paralympian, with three medals.

  • Joginder earned a silver medal in the men’s shot put L6 at the 1984 Paralympics in Stoke Mandeville and New York. The Indian’s best attempt was 10.08 metres.
  • Joginder Singh Bedi earned his second Paralympic medal in the men’s javelin throw L6 event at Stoke Mandeville & New York 1984. In the same event in which Bhimrao Kesarkar won silver, he won bronze with a throw of 34.18m.
  • Joginder Singh Bedi also won a bronze medal in the men’s discus throw L6 event in the 1984 Paralympics, with a throw of 28.16 metres.

4. Devendra Jhajharia

Despite competing in every Paralympic Games since 1984, India had to wait until the 2004 Athens Paralympics for the next medalist.

Devendra Jhajharia, a javelin thrower, broke the Indian drought by winning gold in the men’s javelin throw F44/46 event in the year 2016. Devendra ran a distance of 62.15 metres, which was also a world record at the time.

Devendra is India’s finest para-athlete, with a wealth of field event expertise. The 40-year-old was born in the Churu area of Rajasthan, and his accomplishments may now be openly recognised across the country.

Devendra Jhajharia was born into a farming family in Rajasthan’s Churu area. From the beginning, he used to play with his buddies – but only as a hobby. He accidently touched a 11000 volt electric wire when he was 8 or 9 years old. He had to amputate his left hand right away due to the severity of the accident. Little did he know that the one above had different plans for him.

Devendra received the Arjuna Award in 2004. He received the Padma Shri award in 2012. He is the country’s first Paralympian to be awarded the Padma Shri.

5. Rajinder Singh Rahelu

India’s other great achievement from Athens 2004 was Rajinder Singh Rahelu. With a lift of 157.5 kg, the Indian powerlifter took bronze in the men’s 56 kilogramme weight class. Rajinder competed in the Beijing Paralympics again in 2008, finishing fifth.

Rahelu was diagnosed with Polio at the age of eight months and has been unable to walk since. Rahelu, who was born in Jalandhar on July 22, 1973, has been a mute witness to his family’s financial hardships. His mother worked as a maid and his father was a bandmaster.

He began by lifting a weight of 75 kilograms, but after six months of hard work and determination, he was able to raise a weight of 115 kilograms.

He won his first powerlifting medal in 1997 at the Punjab Open Meet, and he hasn’t looked back since. The next year, he won the National Powerlifting Championship in Hyderabad, which provided his career a major boost.

Rajinder was awarded the Arjuna award in the year 2005.

6. Girish N Gowda

At the 2012 London Paralympics, high jumper Girish N Gowda or Girisha Hosanagara Nagarajegowda

Won India’s only medal, a silver. Girish lost the gold medal in the men’s high jump F42 event on countback after both he and Iliesa Delana of Fiji produced a best of 1.74 metres.

In 2013, Girish N Gowda was awarded the Padma Shri, followed by the Arjuna Award a year later.

7. Mariyappan Thangavelu

Mariyappan Thangavelu of Tamil Nadu won gold in the men’s high jump F42 event at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio. He cleared 1.89 metres. On his return, Mariyappan was awarded the Padma Shri and the Arjuna Award. Last year, he was awarded the Major Dyan Chand Khel Ratna, India’s highest athletic honour.

A drunk bus driver ran over Mariyappan Thangavelu, robbing him of his childhood. He couldn’t take away his spirit or willpower, though. He subsequently transformed his handicap into a strength and became a champion! Mariyappan thinks his stunted leg makes him jump higher!

8. Varun Singh Bhati

Varun Singh Bhati joined Mariyappan Thangavelu on the podium in the high jump event at the 2016 Rio Para Games, making it a special day for India. His attempt of 1.86m earned him a bronze medal in the men’s high jump F42. In 2018, Varun was awarded the Arjuna award.

Varun Singh Bhati was diagnosed with polio when he was a child, but it didn’t stop the high jumper from reaching new heights in the sporting world. In the sixth edition of “The Finish Line,” hosted by Asian Games gold medalist squash player Saurav Ghosal, the 25-year-old talks about how he overcame his impairment and went on to win a Paralympic bronze medal in 2016.

9. Deepa Malik

Deepa Malik is the only Indian woman to have won a medal at the Paralympics. Her throw of 4.61m earned her a silver medal in the women’s shot put F53 event at the 2016 Rio Olympics. In the summer of 1999, Deepa Malik had to undergo a spinal cord  surgery that left her paralysed below her chest for the rest of her life. Thus she had to adjust to being a permanent wheelchair user.  But that has not stopped her from becoming one of the most decorated paralympic athletes in India.

Deepa Malik has won the Arjuna Award, the Padma Shri Award, and the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award. The President of the Indian Paralympic Committee is Deepa Malik.

Murlikant PetkarHeidelberg 1972Swimming, Men’s 50m freestyle 3Gold
Bhimrao KesarkarStoke Mandeville/New York 1984Men’s javelin throw L6Silver
Joginder Singh BediStoke Mandeville/New York 1984Men’s javelin throw L6Bronze
Joginder Singh BediStoke Mandeville/New York 1984Mn’s shot put L6Silver
Joginder Singh BediStoke Mandeville/New York 1984Men’s discus throw L6Bronze
Devendra JhajhariaAthens 2004Men’s javelin throw F44/ 46Gold
Rajinder Singh RaheluAthens 2004Men’s 56 kgBronze
Girisha N GowdaLondon 2012Men’s high jump F42Silver
Mariyappan ThangaveluRio 2016Men’s high jump F42Gold
Varun Singh BhatiRio 2016Men’s high jump F42Bronze
Devendra JhajhariaRio 2016Men’s javelin throw F46Gold
Deepa MalikRio 2016Women’s shot put F53Silver



It was indeed a proud moment for us Indians when 19 year old Avani Lekhara won the gold medal in women’s 10 m air rifle Standing event in the SH 1 category at the Tokyo Paralmypics.

Avani Lekhara suffered a spinal cord injury due to a car accident in the year 2012 and became paralysed below the waist. Avani shot a 621.7 in qualification after a rough start in Tokyo on Monday, but rebounded to finish seventh after the qualification round and qualify for the final. She led from the start in the final and won gold against China’s Zhang C and Ukraine’s I Shchetnik in the medal series.

Avani began training at the Jagatpura Shooting Range in 2016 with coach Chandra Shekhar, who focused her on 50m rifle events rather than 10m air rifle competitions. She won a silver medal with a junior world record at the WSPS World Cup in Al Ain in 2017 and a bronze at the WSPS World Cup in Bangkok the same year, in addition to earning crowns in the National Para Shooting Championship. The coach spent some time to work on Avani’s skills, but he discovered that her mental toughness was her greatest asset.

Sumit Antil

It was a not new thing when Sumit Antil won the F64 Men’s javelin throw gold at the Paralympics Games in Tokyo as he is already the World No. 1 and the record holder in F64.

Antil was born into a middle-class household, and his father served in the Air Force as a JWO officer until his death in 2004. Before an awful motorcycle accident ruined his life, he was training to be a wrestler. He got in an accident on his way back from tuition on January 5, 2015. His father was transferred to Army Hospital because he was in the Air Force, and doctors had to amputate his leg below the knee. He was transferred to the Artificial Limb Center in Pune after a 53-day recuperation period. He abandoned his desire of being a wrestler after receiving a prosthetic leg, but continued to do regular workouts.

A para-athlete from his village (Rajkumar) told him about the Para Games in July 2017, and it changed his life forever. It was difficult for him to cope with that much exercise at first since he had a lot of discomfort in his stump, and his liner (inside component of the prosthetic leg) was sometimes filled with blood due to high heat. But, with the help of his family and friends, he never gave up, and his main goal was to get better every day.

Mariyappan Thangavelu

India’s medal tally in the Paralympics 2021 is led by defending champion Mariyappan Thangavelu, who won silver in the men’s high jump T42 event. On Aug 31st 2021 Tuesday, he reached an all-time high of ten, thanks to a continuously outstanding track and field performance.

Sharad Kumar

Sharad Kumar of Muzaffarpur made history on Tuesday when he earned a bronze medal in the F42 category of men’s high jump at the Tokyo Para Games, becoming Bihar’s first-ever Paralympic medalist.

Sharad was paralysed in his left leg at the age of two after consuming bogus polio treatment during a local eradication drive. Sharad attended St. Paul’s School in Darjeeling, where he began high jumping in Class 7. He set school and district records while competing against able-bodied athletes.[6] He continued his education in Delhi, where he completed his Plus Two at Modern School and graduated from Kirori Mal College with a degree in Political Science. Jawaharlal Nehru University awarded him a postgraduate degree in politics with a specialization in international relations.

“To have striven, to have made the effort, to have been true to certain ideals — this alone is worth the struggle”.

— William Osler