At 66.43 m, javelin-thrower Sumit Antil completed seventh on the Indian Grand Prix in Patiala final week. Though the occasion was received by Tokyo Olympics-bound star Neeraj Chopra, who broke the nationwide report with 88.07 metres, the day’s loudest cheer went up for the 22-year-old Antil.
Six years in the past, this boy from village Khewra close to Haryana’s Sonepat was returning residence from a tuition class. A tractor hit his bike, his left leg needed to be amputated. After months in hospital, a prosthetic leg revived his sporting dreams, gave him the arrogance to compete with nationwide stars and, on the Indian GP, break the world report for para athletes.
In Patiala final Saturday, Antil, a 2019 World Para Championship silver medallist, broke compatriot Sandeep Chaudhary’s world report in the javelin’s F44 and F64 classes — para track-and-field occasions have classifications based mostly on the bodily disabilities of athletes.
Chopra, together with one other elite thrower Shivpal Singh, and with nationwide coach German Uwe Hohn, the primary man in historical past to interrupt javelin’s 100-m barrier, would stroll throughout to congratulate Antil and “give their blessings”. Hohn would even name Antil’s coach Naval Singh to speak in regards to the new world report holder’s potential.
“Because of the pandemic, I was competing in my first meet since the 2019 Worlds. After our para national body gave me the permission to compete in the Indian Grand Prix, I was very excited. I was only thinking about my performance. I was motivated to see Neeraj Bhai and Shivpal Bhai throw over 80 m that evening. And to have a coach like Uwe applaud my effort was my biggest reward,” Antil advised The Sunday Express.
At an early age, Antil took to wrestling. The loss of life of his father, who served in the Indian Air Force, due to most cancers didn’t deter him. The youngest of 4 kids, he was an everyday at native dangals. Antil would quickly graduate to the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre at Bahalgarh. Things have been going as he had deliberate — till that day in January 2015.
“Kushti aur padhai mein kuch karke naukri lagne ka sapna tha. (I had plans to get a job through wrestling and also focusing on studies). But the accident changed things. When it happened, I was conscious and made the call to the ambulance. Later, doctors told me about the need to amputate my leg,” he recollects.
The 53-day keep on the hospital was making an attempt. That’s when he stumbled throughout the video of the world’s most well-known para athlete, South African Oscar Pistorius aka Blade Runner. A double-leg amputee, Pistorius competed at each Paralympics Games and Olympic Games in 2012.
“I would search videos about para athletes on my phone and saw videos of Oscar Pistorius. After I was discharged from the hospital, I went to Pune for the prosthetic leg certain that I would join sports again,” says Antil.
His coach Naval Singh says Antil, who certified for the Para Olympics later this yr, touched the 45-m mark inside 4 months of coaching.
“He has a natural ability but we faced a different challenge. After 10-15 days of training, the skin on his knee, which marked the connection to the prosthetic leg, would get severely bruised and we had to stop training. So we would work on increasing his lower body strength. Once healed, he would spend more than eight hours training every day,” says Singh.
Last week, Antil additionally broke his imported prosthetic leg in his try to set the brand new world report and that is what worries the coach most in the run-up to Tokyo. “We were planning to get him a new leg in March 2020. But then the lockdown meant that these plans got postponed. At Patiala, he broke his prosthetic leg and we have been training with a different leg since the last five days. It is like starting all over again. If things remain well, he can touch the 70-m mark this year,” says Singh.
As for Antil, there’s one other highly effective motive to win a medal at Tokyo, his mom Nirmala. “She has been my pillar of strength all these years and for her to see me win an Olympic medal will be the gift for all her struggles,” he says.