After Rio heartbreak, only dream has been to win medal in Tokyo: Sundar Gurjar

For the past four months, the Sawai Mansingh Stadium has been home for double world champion Sundar Singh Gurjar. The top Indian para-javelin thrower has not only been training but living at the boys’ hostel inside the stadium, which has been his training ground ever since he took up para-athletics in 2015.

While all trainees of the stadium hostels (both boys and girls) returned to their homes before the nationwide lockdown was imposed in March, Gurjar chose to continue his training alone inside the walls of the stadium, famous for hosting international cricket matches.

“Since lockdown, I have been staying at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium in Jaipur. I didn’t return home and haven’t even stepped out of the Stadium walls for the past four months. As I am training alone, my friend (Ahmet Singh Gurjar) is helping me with my diet and other help. I was also in touch with my coach (Mahavir Prasad Saini ji) on video call initially and now he is at the stadium daily to supervise me personally,” Gurjar told the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).

With the Tokyo Paralympic Games little more than one year away now, Gurjar was happy to have continued his training without a break.

“After the Rio 2016 disappointment, my only dream has been to win a medal at Tokyo 2020. Now that the Games are just one year away, it is an important time to continue the process. And I was lucky enough to have the chance to continue my training here, which will also give me an advantage than my fellow competitors,” said the taciturn Gurjar, who missed out on competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympics owing to disqualification for failing to register on time.

For Gurjar, who secured the Tokyo 2020 slot in men’s F46 Javelin with his second World Championship title (61.22 metres) at Dubai 2019, the focus for the past couple of months has been on his overall workout of his core – strength, technique and fitness.

“I have been working on my core body. As I am confined to the stadium, training is the only thing I have been doing all these months. And as a result, I am able to attain 68-70 metres throw now. In the past, I also have achieved the India record with a distance of 68.42m at a National meet in Panchkula, Haryana. And I am confident I can attain this mark at the Paralympic Games.”

India’s only double Paralympic gold medallist Devendra Jhajharia currently holds the world record of 63.97m in men’s F46 javelin event achieved at the Rio 2016 Games.

Asked if hot and humid conditions will be a cause of concern at Tokyo during the Games time next year, Gurjar didn’t sound worried.

“As Rajasthan witnesses one of the hottest weathers in India, I am used to training in such conditions. The weather will not be a concern for me. My main focus will be on my throw on that particular day. And my coach will definitely chalk out plans for how I will deliver the best on the day.

“Else, the Javelin event will witness a strong competition with India having some of the world best throwers. There will also be good throwers from Japan and Sri Lanka etc. I hope I will be ready to tackle the challenges in Tokyo,” he said.