India's greatest Paralympian, javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, rewrote his own world record once again as he punched his ticket for the Tokyo Paralympics during a national selection trial in New Delhi.
The 40-year-old, who has won two gold medals in the men's F-46 category at the Paralympics, sent the spear to a distance of 65.71m during the trial on Wednesday.
With that effort, he not only sealed a spot for the Tokyo Paralympics but also bettered his own world record of 63.97m, set at the Rio Games in 2016.
"Today at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi, I qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics by setting a new world record of 65.71, breaking my older record of 63.97 in a qualifying event.
"This was possible because of my family's support, and the efforts of my coach Sunil Tanwar and fitness trainer Lakshya Batra," Jhajharia tweeted in Hindi.
The Tokyo Paralympics slated to begin on August 24, will be Jhajharia's third Paralympics.
He had won a gold at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, setting a new world record of 62.15 metres.
He then repeated the feat 12 years later at the 2016 Rio edition bettering his own record with a throw of 63.97 metres and becoming the first Indian to clinch two gold medals at the Paralympics.
Saroha set for 3rd Paralympics, Sandeep Chaudhary too qualifies
Asian Para Games gold medallists Amit Kumar Saroha and Sandeep Chaudhary have qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics, the former after battling a recent bout of COVID-19 infection.
Two-time Paralympian Saroha will be representing the country in the F51 category in discus throw and club throw. F51 refers to limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power or impaired range of movement.
While Chaudhary will be competing in the F-44 (lower limb competing without prosthesis affected by limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power or impaired passive range of movement) javelin throw event at the Tokyo Paralympics, to be held from August 24 to September 5.
The Paralympics Committee of India (PCI) is expected to officially announce a 24-member athletics squad for the Games on Friday.
"Finally Got Selected For Tokyo Paralympic, It's My Third Paralympic Games. To be honest, this journey of Tokyo selection was not easy because a few days before the trial, there was a lot of weakness in the body due to corona, but in our Haryana, it is said of courage. Ram's support," Saroha tweeted.
"Also, it is a matter of happiness that two of my students Ekta and Dharambir have also been selected for Tokyo. As a coach and mentor, what can be more proud of me than this!! If you all keep your links together, then this time we will definitely bring medals," he wrote.
Saroha's road to Tokyo wasn't easy as he recovered from the dreaded COVID-19 just before the final national selection trials at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here.
The journey was full of hardships for the 36-year-old Saroha, who will representing India in his third Paralympics, in Tokyo. He suffered a car accident when he was 22, which left him a quadriplegic due to compression of the spinal cord.
Before his injury, Saroha was a national level hockey player but was forced to shift to parasports after being confined to a wheelchair.
Saroha has two silver medals in the IPC World Athletics Championships but his biggest achievement is a gold at the men's club throw (F51) at the 2014 Incheon Asian Para Games.
Chaudhary, on the other hand, will be representing India in his first Paralympics.
He booked his ticket to Tokyo with an unofficial world record throw of 66.44m.
Chaudhary represented India at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, where he won a gold medal and set a new world record with 60.01m.