Some Lesser Known Facts About Sundar Singh Gurjar
- Sundar Singh Gurjar is an Indian Paralympic athlete in Javelin Throw, Shot Put, and Discus Throw category. He competes in the F46 events. F46 events consist of disabled athletes having a single below or above the arm deficiency, impaired muscle power or passive movement of arms.
- He is widely known as the world record holder of 68.42m scores at the 16th Paralympic National Championship held at Tau Devi Lal stadium in Panchkula (Haryana) on 26 March 2016. Unfortunately, that record throw was not ratified as the event was not recognised by the World body. His major achievement was the Bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
- He started playing Javelin Throw in 2012, before his accident which happened three years later. He wasn’t much into studies and was often seen bunking his classes. He even urged his PT sir that he wants to join sports. The PT sir then advised him to give the sports trial. After getting selected in the trials, he went to Jaipur and started living in a sports hostel.
- But as his father and elder brother were into the wrestling, so he followed their footsteps. One day, he was spotted in a wrestling competition by his coach who encouraged him to take up athletics. From there on, he started playing at the junior level.
- In 2015, he went through an accident when a heavy metal sheet fell on him at his friend’s house while he was working on it, which resulted in permanent loss of his left hand. But as there is a saying that
“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”
Sundar Singh Gurjar is one of them. He went to a training centre in Hanumangarh, Rajasthan following his recovery from the accident, where he was introduced to Mr RD Singh, the director of that institute. And soon he started practising Para Sports. He then competed in many Junior national events and became successful.
- In March 2016, he competed in the 8th Fazza IPC Athletics Grand Prix held in Dubai where he recorded 59.36m scores along with his teammate Rishi Kant Sharma (F12) in the javelin throw competition. There were a total of 24 Indian contingents whose entry was refused by the IPC Para Athletics officials as the Sports Authority of India (SAI) failed to forward their entries on time. Only 11 contingents could compete and the rest were returned home despite spending 80000 INR (1100 dollars) from their own pocket.
- Sundar Singh made an ‘A’ grade qualification mark for the 2016 Rio Paralympics along with Virendra Singh (discus and shot put). The rule for direct entry into the 2016 Rio Paralympics was that the Paralympian should remain in the top-5 rank until 30 April 2016. While the remaining entry will be decided on the basis of Athletics who have earned ‘A’ and ‘B’ qualification marks. Dronacharya Awardee RD Singh who ran the paralympic training centre in Rajasthan praised Sundar Singh by saying that
“If all goes well, you will see Sunder winning an Olympic medal. His throw was excellent and he can easily add a couple of metres by the time of Rio. Till November last, Sunder was competing in the general category and won a junior national gold. But he lost his left hand in an accident.”
- But 2016 saw a devastating time in his life when despite becoming one of the contenders to win the medal at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in the F46 javelin throw category, he missed the registration process by narrowly 52 seconds when his name was called at the registration desk. He later clarified that he couldn’t able to hear his name. But it was quite late and he was later disqualified from the event. He further added that
“A little miscommunication resulted in something so life-changing. I was never told about a fixed time, and I couldn’t understand when my name was announced. The world knows that I was the best javelin thrower and had been the best in my category for the last few months. I don’t understand English nor can I read or speak the language. That disqualification broke me mentally. A long period of depression followed, I did nothing for a good six months. I didn’t want to touch javelin again. But my coach Mahabir Prasad Saini took me for counselling and arranged sessions with motivational speakers. The rest is history.”
- In the latter season of Fazza IPC Athletics Grand Prix, he was once again impressive with a score of 60.33m in the Javelin throw F46 category in 2017. He also threw 44.56m in the discus throw F46 event and was outstanding in the shot put event. It was a successful season for him with three gold medals in all those above categories.
- In July 2017, during the eighth edition of the World Para Athletics Championships, Sundar Singh won the gold medal for the country with his personal best score of 60.36m until then in the Javelin throw event. With that, he also became the second Indian after Devendra Jhajharia to win the gold in the World Para-athletics Championships. This event was held at the iconic London Stadium in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the same venue where the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics games took place.
- In October 2018, at the third edition of the Para Asian Games in Jakarta (Indonesia), he won the silver medal with a score of 61.33m more than his counterpart bronze medalist Rinku Hooda who got a 60.92m score in the Javelin throw. Sundar Singh also won a bronze medal in the discus throw category with a score of 47.10m. A total of 302 members from India took part in this event. Rio Paralympic gold medalist Mariyappan Thangavelu was the flag-bearer from the Indian side.
- Sundar Singh then suffered from a shoulder injury during training which forced him to stay in the backseat for quite a few months. But that didn’t impact his momentum when in 2019, he defended his World Para Athletics Championships title in the men’s F46 javelin throw event. He came up with the season’s best score of 61.22m to bring home the Gold medal for the country surpassing Sri Lanka’s Dinesh P Herath Mudiyanselage. He also secured a berth in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games quota along with his teammate the bronze medalist Ajeet Singh and Rinku Hooda. In an interview with PCI, he told that,
“I am very happy. It was a relief. I came into this Championships with no training for the last one month. I got the injury in my training and so had to tap my shoulder today. When I was training, I felt the pain. But I was lucky at the finals, I didn’t feel it. I felt my body was well-rested. It was a blessing in disguise. In my last attempt, I knew that I got it there. But never realized that it will be my season-best. It was a good leap. This will motivate me to go for a medal at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.”
With that, he also became the second Indian after Devendra Jhajharia to win two World Championships medals in the Para-sport category. Devendra Jhajharia before won gold and silver medals in the 2013 Lyon and 2015 Doha Championship events.
- But since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the entire nation, he was forced to stay away from sports for almost two to three months. Then one day he approaches Ashok Chandna, the sports minister of Rajasthan for help and urged him to open the Sawai Mansingh Stadium (Jaipur) for him to practice for which the sports minister agreed. He was then regular with his training and never missed a single session.
- Recalling that time, he told that
“I didn’t want to sit at home and wait for things to happen. So, I requested our minister and he allowed me to use the hostel. It wasn’t easy because the entire country was in lockdown, but Mr Chandna went out of his way to help me out.”
- He also spoke in an interview that how his training during the lockdown has improved his game and he is now ready to compete at the Tokyo Paralympics.
“I am now throwing beyond 68 metres. This is something that has boosted my confidence for the Tokyo Games, as 63.97 metres is a world record. But I’m not taking anything lightly. “This is the best thing that has happened before Tokyo.” He added.
- Then finally the day has come, when he will be competing with the other 53 athletes in nine sporting events that include Archery, Athletics, Badminton, Shooting, Swimming, Para-Canoeing, Table Tennis, and Taekwondo from date 24 August 2021 to 5 September 2021. The official mascot was the “Someity”. It was the first time that Badminton & Taekwondo was introduced to the event.
- As he was one of the hopes from the Indian side. He didn’t disappoint and won the Bronze medal in the Javelin throw category. He started slowly but eventually registered a throw of 64.01m in his fifth attempt to chipped in with yet splendour for the nation. Devendra Jhajharia was the gold medallist in that category. With that, India finished with 19 medals in total which is the highest medal tally so far in terms of Paralympic history.
- He received a warm welcome at the Delhi Airport from his fans and family members.
- He thanked all those people for their valuable contributions to his success. He also said that
“I am extremely elated to have won a medal in Tokyo. In Rio 2016 I was disqualified, now I have won bronze.”
- Presently, he is working as the Assistant Conservator in the Forest department.