Gurjar, Chaudhary to lead Indian challenge at World Para Athletics Grand Prix

The championship is the first para-sport event after almost a year, following the COVID-19 pandemic and will take place from February 10 to 13 in Dubai.

Sandeep Chaudhary qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics with a world record in javelin throw (F44).   -  SAI / twitter

Reigning world champions Sundar Singh Gurjar and Sandeep Chaudhary will lead the Indian challenge at the 12th Fazza International World Para Athletics Grand Prix, a Tokyo Paralympics qualifying event, to be held in Dubai from February 10 to 13.

Gurjar (F-46) and Chaudhary (F-44), both para javelin throwers, will return to their happy hunting ground, the Dubai Club for People of Determination Grounds, as the 39-member Indian team looks to secure Tokyo Paralympics slots.

"I am very happy to return to international competition after a long time. I have good memories from the World Championships in 2019 and I hope to do even better this time. I will try to maintain my No. 1 world ranking in my event," said Gurjar.

"This event is also important in regard to our preparations for Tokyo 2020 as we have been just training for more than one year now," he added.

Chaudhary made his international debut at the Dubai Club grounds in the 2015 edition of Fazza Para Athletics. Later, he went on to become a world champion at the same ground in 2019.

"Yes, I have special memories in this ground. I hope to do well this time as well though my target will be producing my personal best at Tokyo 2020," he said.

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High jumpers Sharad Kumar (T-42) and Nishad Kumar (T-47), javelin thrower Ajeet Singh (F-46) and young discus thrower Yogesh Kathuniya (F-56), all World Championships bronze medallists, will also be in action.

Among women, promising Kashish Lakra (discus and club throw F-51), Shweta Sharma (javelin F-55) and Simran (100m, 400m T-13) will be among those who will feature in the top flight event.

The championship, being hosted under the patronage of Dubai Sports Council Chairman Sheikh Mansoor bin Rashid Al Maktoum, will serve as one of the seven qualifying events for Tokyo Paralympic Games with over 600 para-athletes from 63 countries competing. India already has secured 12 quotas in para athletics.

"This is an important event for all the players as this will help us get back into shape after the pandemic has put a halt to training and events for more than a year. I am happy to finally compete now." National para-athletics coach Satyanarayana said, "We are looking to secure at least six additional qualifying slots there," he added.

The championship is the first para-sport event after almost a year, following the COVID-19 pandemic.

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