Who is Sumit Antil? All you need to know about the javelin thrower who smashed records at the Paralympics
Sumit Antil won gold in the F64 Men's javelin throw at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics after he hurled the javelin a distance of 68.55m. In his first attempt, he scored 66.95m which beat his previous personal best of 62.88m and the current world record. In his second throw, he cleared a distance of 68.08m to set a new world record for this category. His next two attempts of 65.27m and 66.71m would have also broken his earlier world record which he set at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai.
However, he had saved the best for the least as he threw 68.55m to break his own record again. Michal Burian of Australia came second with a score of 66.29m.
Let us take a look at the journey of India's latest sensation, Sumit Antil.
An aspiring wrestler
Antil was born on June 7, 1988, and is based in Sonipat, Haryana. He hails from a middle-class family and his father was a JWO (Junior Warrant Officer) in the Indian Air Force. He was into sports from a small age and his favourite sport was wrestling. In fact, he wanted to be a wrestler and idolises Yogeshwar Dutt who won a bronze medal at London 2012 Olympics.
An accident that changed his life
On January 5, 2015, when he was returning from tuition on a bike he met with an accident. He was immediately taken to the Air Force Hospital where the doctors had no other option but to amputate his leg below the knee.
"A tractor hit me from behind. I slipped on the road and then the tractor driver failed to apply the brakes on time and ran over my left leg," he stated to Times of India.
After 53 days, he was shifted to Artificial Limb Center in Pune and he got a prosthetic leg which helped him to get back on his feet. However, his dreams of becoming a wrestler had a premature end.
How did Sumit Antil take to para-sports?
Even after the accident, he did not want to give up sports. In July 2017, he was informed about Paralympics by a fellow para-athlete named Rajkumar who belonged to the same village. It was a journey filled with pain and patience as sometimes his prosthetic liner would be filled with blood due to excessive corrosion and heat. However, he did not quit.
He met Virender Dhankar, the 2018 Asian Games silver medallist, and then he was introduced to javelin coach Naval Singh who took Antil under his wings. He started to train at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
"He is a hardworking soul. Many times I have asked him to come to practice at 3 am in the morning and he was there with a javelin in hand. I have never seen such a dedicated person," said Singh, a Dronacharya awardee.
How did Sumit Antil qualify for the Paralympics?
Antil had booked his place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics in the F64 category after he clinched a silver medal at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships.
What are Sumit Antil's achievements?
There is no doubt that his biggest achievement is the gold that he won at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. He is the current world no.1 and world-record holder in the F64 category. He won a silver medal in Paris Open Handisport in 2019. The javelin thrower also came second at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix, Italy 2019.