Sports

Asian Para Games 2023 Preview: India Looking For Another Record Medal Haul In Hangzhou

India has sent a 313-strong contingent, its biggest-ever, to the Asian Para Games which begin in Hangzhou on Sunday, October 22, and will continue till October 28 

Advertisement

India para shuttler Pramod Bhagat in action in Hangzhou.
info_icon

Tokyo Paralympics gold medallists Avani Lekhara and Sumit Antil will be leading India's biggest-ever contingent as the country aims for a record medal haul in the Asian Para Games, which commence in Hangzhou on Sunday, a fortnight after Indian athletes achieved historic success at the same venue. Star shooter Avani, who won a gold and a bronze medal in Tokyo Paralympics, and javelin thrower Antil, who also clinched a yellow metal in the Japanese capital in 2021, will be among a host of Indian medal contenders in the continental showpiece, which will continue till October 28. (Full Schedule | Medal Hopes)

Advertisement

Another para shooter Manish Narwal as well as shuttlers Pramod Bhagat and Krishna Nagar, who all won gold in the Tokyo Paralympics, will be among the 313 Indian athletes at the Hangzhou Para Asian Games, the most in any edition.

India is participating in 17 out of the 22 sports in the Hangzhou Asian Para Games. The country is  fielding athletes for the first time in rowing, canoeing, lawn bowl, taekwondo and blind football.

Nearly 4,000 athletes from 43 countries will be competing across 22 sports in 566 gold-medal events in the Para Games.

The Asian Para Games were originally scheduled to take place from October 9-15, 2022 but were postponed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Advertisement

China, who have topped the medals table by an overwhelming margin in every edition so far, are fielding 439 athletes. The host country won a whopping 319 medals (172 gold, 88 silver, 59 bronze) in the 2018 edition.

The first Asian Para Games was held in 2010 in Guangzhou, China, where India had finished 15th with 14 medals, including one gold.

In the 2014 and 2018 editions, India had finished 15th and ninth respectively, and this time, the country would be looking to move up the medals table, taking inspirations from the unprecedented success achieved by their able-bodied counterparts.

With 51 of the 54 athletes who took part in the Tokyo Paralympics competing in Hangzhou, India is hoping for its best-ever medal haul here. India won 72 medals (15 gold, 24 silver, 33  bronze) in 2018 Para Asian Games, the best so far.

Paralympic Committee of India (PCI), the governing body of the sport in the country, is expecting to touch the 100-medal mark, which, if achieved, will emulate the historic success in the Hangzhou Asian Games of the able-bodied athletes, where India won a record 107 medals.

"It will be a record this time also. We are hoping for 100 medals," PCI secretary general Gursharan Singh told PTI.

The high expectations stem from the fact that India can win more medals in sports like shooting and archery -- which did not yield too many medals in 2018 -- while also increasing the contribution in athletics, badminton and chess.

Advertisement

The last time around, athletics contributed 36 medals (7 gold, 13 silver, 16 bronze) -- exactly half of India's total count. This time, the PCI is hoping at least 45 medals in athletics.

The Indian athletics team will be led by Antil, the reigning Olympic and world champion in javelin throw F64 category. The 25-year-old is also the world record holder with his 70.83m throw while winning gold in the 2023 World Para Athletics Championships in Paris.

Sandeep Chaudhary is defending his javelin throw F44 title he had won in 2018 in Jakarta. In javelin throw F46 category, India will have reigning world champion Ajeet Singh and Sunder Singh Gurjar who had won a bronze in the Tokyo Paralympics and silver in the 2018 Para Asian Games.

Advertisement

Gurjar had also won a bronze in the discus throw F46 event in 2018.

In the 2018 edition, India had won just three medals, including a gold, in shooting and Avani was not there in Jakarta. With Avani in tow this time, India can increase the number of medals from shooting. 

In the Tokyo Paralympics, Avani had won 10m air rifle gold and 50m rifle 3 positions bronze in SH1 category.

In pistol events also, India will be looking for a rich haul after the impressive show from their youngsters at the 2023 Lima World Championships.

While Tokyo Paralympics champion Manish Narwal returned to winning ways with his first Worlds title in P1 10m air pistol in SH1 category, 16-year-old Rudransh Khandelwal won gold in the P4 mixed 50m pistol SH1 category.

Advertisement

Another Indian athlete to look out for is table tennis player Bhavinaben Patel who had clinched silver at the Tokyo Paralympics. She won silver in the 2018 Para Asian Games and would be looking to convert it into gold this time around.

Bhavinaben will have her group match on Sunday. Apart from the opening ceremony and table tennis preliminary round matches, there is no competition on Sunday.

In para sports, athletes are classified according to the degree of activity limitation resulting from the impairment. Classification determines which athletes are eligible to compete in a particular event. This is done to ensure fair competition.

Advertisement

North Korea has withdrawn from the Hangzhou Games after the Asian Paralympic Committee refused to allow it to use their national symbols following sanctions by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for non-compliance with anti-doping regulations.

This is in contrast to the able-bodied Asian Games (September 23-October 8) where North Korea was allowed to use its symbols by the Olympic Council of Asia in spite of the WADA sanctions.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement