Volume 2 Issue 19 - October 01, 2004

Devendra bags Paralympic Gold

DNIS News Network - India's eternal quest for an Olympic gold finally culminated on a successful note with Devendra winning the coveted medal in Javelin throw at the Paralympics in Athens last month.

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The 24-year-old from Rajasthan, a world record holder in his section, won the gold in F44/46 section. Devendra came up with a superb effort in his last throw, hurling the spear to 62.15 metres, which is beyond his own world mark speed of 59.77 metres set in the World Games in Birmingham last year.

The silver went to Gao M.J. of China while another Chinese, Wang D.C. took the bronze with throws measuring 55.57 metres and 55.54 metres, respectively.

Elated with his performance, Devendra said, "My dream was to win the gold medal at the Paralympic Games and it came true. It is not a surprise for me. I expected to win, because this year I had the best results of all the competing athletes. I enjoyed the competition, especially after the two world records I achieved."

His achievements have done wonders for the confidence of the differently abled sports community in India. He had won a gold in the Asian and world meet last season and again struck gold in the Belgian Open meet in May.

David Premnath, chief coach, Paralympics, who put the finishing touch to Devendra's training before the team left for Athens, said the athletes deserved all the credit. "Devendra was a very hard working athlete and he really put our disabled athletes on the world stage. This will inspire other athletes to emulate his example," he said.

He also felt that at least from now on, the government should realise the potential of such athletes and help them in a big way.

Mr Amar Singh, chief-de-mission, Indian team said that the feat of Devendra wiped away the despondency that had been prevailing in Indian camps. "We are struggling without much money and all of us had to get our trips funded ourselves with out any help from the government," he revealed. "We had to think twice about making a phone call home, or order a lavish meal, every penny counts for us here. Devendra has made our efforts worthwhile with his great effort."

He predicted more medals, "We are not stopping with Devendra's gold. We will surely come back with more medals but I hope sincerely the government wakes up to our plight and recognises our federation and extend help to our disabled athletes as they do for other athletes."

Tennis player, Prabhu also commended Devendra's achievement: "It is the best news I have heard in a long time. It is a gold medal at the biggest stage of them all. When people like Anju Bobby George and others do well, they get lakhs of rupees. This is an Indian best showing since the hockey gold in 1980 Olympics. Shouldn't we acknowledge it in the right spirit and give him the encouragement he needs?"

In his message for the athlete, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said, "This joyous and proud achievement is testimony of the unbreakable will of the spirit over the body and once again proves that the differently abled can conquer all obstacles.

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