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Second Paralympics Gold Is Goal, But Breaching 75 Metre-Mark My Dream: Sumit Antil

World champion javelin thrower Sumit Antil said at the Fit India Champions podcast that he wants to break his own record set at the 2023 Asian Para Games in Hangzhou

World champion javelin thrower Sumit Antil said at the Fit India Champions podcast that he wants to break his own record set at the 2023 Asian Para Games in Hangzhou
World and Paralympic javelin throw champion Sumit Antil with Fit India Champions Podcast host Ekta Vishnoi. Photo: SAI/Fit India

India’s star para athlete Sumit Antil wants to make the year 2024 special for himself and the country. The 25-year-old, a serial record-breaker in javelin throw (F64 category), will defend his Paralympics and world championship titles this year. Antil, who lost his left leg in a bike accident when he was all of 17, received the Khel Ratna Award, India’s highest sporting honour, in 2021. (More Sports News)

Antil, who holds the world record of 73.29 metres set during the 2023 Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, aims to breach the 75-metre mark in two major events scheduled this year – the world para athletics champions in Kobe, Japan in May and the Paralympics in Paris in August.

“I have always loved to push the limits. I have always worked very hard for this. Winning a second gold medal in the Paralympics for India is a goal but if I can break the 75 meters mark, it will be a dream,” Antil told Fit India Champions podcast host Ekta Vishnoi.

From his love for ‘rasmalai’ (a dessert made of milk and cottage cheese) to how experts discovered that he was using the wrong ‘leg’ during the 2019 world para athletics meet in Dubai, Antil, once motivated by Oscar Pistorius, spoke on a range of subjects in the podcast.

Antil described how he overcame the challenge of losing a leg in a bike accident and how his love for javelin grew because “the spear flew far and wide.”

The 25-year-old, who wanted to become a wrestler as a youngster growing up in Sonepat in Haryana, revealed his career changed completely after he tested new prosthetics for one full year to prepare himself for global events.

“For so long I was wearing the wrong limb. It was so frustrating. From February 2020 to February 2021, I tested my new limb and once I got used to it, there was never looking back.

“In 2010 Commonwealth Games, Kashinath Naik won the bronze medal by throwing the javelin beyond 74 metres. There is a fire inside me to break that mark. It is still unthinkable for a para athlete to do what an able-bodied man has done,” said Antil.

Kashinath Naik, an Armyman, threw 74.29 metres to win India’s first-ever javelin medal in Commonwealth Games. Naik has even been part of Olympic javelin champion Neeraj Chopra’s coaching team.

Antil said his entire training is managed by coach Arun Kumar. “The success of an athlete depends on his coach and the surrounding in which he is training. I love to train in India. I think there is no need to go overseas because I am very happy with the facilities available at SAI, Sonepat. Plus, you get all weather types in India and more importantly, I am near my family and the group of friends who constantly keep me motivated,” said Antil.

The talented athlete is clearly driven by targets. Having won gold medals in two of the highest competitions in the world, Antil wants to keep bettering his own records. He reveals how his team was “unhappy” because he could not break the 71.03-metre record despite winning the gold at the Paris world championship in 2023.

“They were only happy when I created a new world record (73.29 m) at Hangzhou later in the year!” he added.

A flagship programme of the ministry of youth affairs and sports, the Fit India Mission is an endeavour to spread the virtues of physical and mental wellness. The ‘Fit India Champions’ podcast series is aimed at spreading the good words through conversations with athletes and health influencers who are acting as catalysts for change.