A 54-member Indian team for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics was on Thursday accorded a warm send-off by Sports Minister Anurag Thakur and the national governing body, with high hopes that the country will return with its best-ever performance. (More Sports News)
The team has some of the brightest medal prospects like Devendra Jhajharia, seeking his third Paralympics gold (after 2004 and 2016) in F-46 javelin throw, Mariyappan Thangavelu (T-63 high jump) and world champion Sandeep Choudhary (F-64 javelin throw).
India will compete in nine sports.
Mariyappan, who had won a gold in the last edition in Rio, will be the flag bearer of the Indian contingent during the opening ceremony on August 24. The Tokyo Paralympics will end on September 5.
The Tokyo-bound players were part of the event virtually as they are in strict bio-bubble.
"The ambition and self-confidence of our para athletes give inspiration to 1.3 billion Indians. In front of their courage, the biggest of challenges bow. And they deserve every bit of it," Thakur said in a video message.
"The number of our para athletes participating in the upcoming Games is three times bigger than the last edition. I have full faith in your abilities. I believe that your performance too will be better than last time."
He said it's a matter of great pride and satisfaction that the para athletes have so far won three Khel Ratna, seven Padma Shri and 33 Arjuna awards.
"It's not easy at all but your hard work, the desire to win and your passion translate all the challenges into triumphs. I know when you go to Tokyo Games, you will go with only one thought -- to better India's ranking in the medals tally from before."
Thakur said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done his best to motivate the country's athletes before and during the Tokyo Olympics and will do the same for the para athletes also.
India achieved its best ever performance in the Paralympic Games in the 2016 Rio Games with two gold, one silver and one bronze medal.
PCI president Deepa Malik, who herself had won a silver medal in shot put at Rio 2016 Games, said, "The games will not be the same again after Tokyo2020 Paralympics. We are going to see a record haul of medals as our athletes are in prime form."
PCI secretary general Gursharan Singh will be the chef de mission of the Indian team.
Badminton will make its debut at the Paralympic Games, which will feature as many as seven Indian shuttlers.
Indian fans can catch all the Live action of the country's para athletes on Eurosports and DD Sports. PCI has awarded the rights to broadcast the Paralympics live to Eurosport India.
India will start its campaign on August 27, with men's and women's archery events.