Hero’s welcome for para-athlete Anandan

Anandan Gunasekaran claimed a gold and a silver medal at the 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai, and also achieved qualification for the Rio Paralympics in the men's 400m (T44) event.

Anandan Gunasekaran has qualified for the Rio Paralympics in the men's 400m (T44) event.   -  The Hindu

Para-athlete Anandan Gunasekaran returned home to a rousing welcome on Monday after his success at the 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championships in Dubai. Anandan, a Naib Subedar with the Indian Army's Madras Engineering Group & Centre here, claimed a gold and a silver medal at the Championships, and also achieved qualification for the Rio Paralympics in the men's 400m (T44) event.

“I’m feeling very happy. My target was to achieve Olympic qualification. I was not certain of it but my coach S. Srinivas told me I could do it,” the 28-year-old said here.

Anandan took the silver in the men’s 200m (T44), clocking 24.95s to finish behind compatriot Manoj Baskar (24.91). In the men’s 400m (T44), he smashed the Asian record of 54.82, set by Zhiming Liu. Anandan finished in a time of 54.67, comfortably achieving the Olympic A qualification standard of 57.00.

“I started competing in the 400m only last year,” he said. “At the trials in Gujarat last month, I managed a time of 56s. So to clock 54.67 here was great improvement.”

Anandan's left leg is amputated below the knee, the result of a mine explosion on the Pakistan border in June 2008. He now runs with the aid of a prosthetic blade. “In Rio, anything under 50.5 is a medal chance,” he said. “I still have five months left. It won't be easy, but if you work hard anything is possible.”