Tokyo Paralympics: Jhajharia confident of breaking world record again

Jhajharia booked his Tokyo Paralympic berth in the men's F-46 category with a record-breaking distance of 65.71m during the trial on Wednesday.

Para sports witnessed a watershed year in 2019 and Jhajharia also sounded confident that they will continue the momentum in Tokyo.   -  AP

A day after breaching his world record, two-time Paralympic gold-medallist, javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, said he is targetting a distance of 68m at the Tokyo Games later this month. 

Jhajharia booked his Tokyo Paralympic berth in the men's F-46 category with a record-breaking distance of 65.71m during the trial on Wednesday.

With that effort, he bettered his world record of 63.97m, set at the Rio Games in 2016.

"My target is 67-68m for the Paralympics. I am feeling really good. I have broken the world record that too in the trial just before the Paralympics. I am quite confident and I know that I will break the world record once again in Paralympics," said Jhajharia on Thursday.

Jhajharia, who won the gold in the 2004 and 2016 Games, said he has worked on increasing his shoulder strength. 

"I have increased my shoulder exercises. You need to do a special rehab for the shoulder, my flexibility is good but I worked on improving the strength."

The 40-year-old said he has proved that "age is just a number" with his recent feat.

"I don't think of it much. Now that I have broken the world record at 40 plus years, I have proved that age doesn't matter. As you age, the training needs to be tweaked, one can't train like when they were 17-18 years old but then you have experience, that helps.

"My coach, fitness trainer and physiotherapist have worked a lot on me, my family has kept me free because I train at the Gandhinagar coaching camp. I think you have to be mentally strong more than being physically fit in sports.

"I was mentally fit for this competition. I have improved the record by almost 1.75m, which is a lot," he added.

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"I was in my village during the lockdown and there was no facility, I trained inside a room but I feel I have learnt a lot from that experience also, how to stay fit even then [during lockdown].

"My coach had told me that I cannot put on any weight in the lockdown, if it increases you won't be able to perform. I did core exercises. I had no equipment so I used the wheels of the cars, gas cylinder, cycle tube etc."

Parasports witnessed a watershed year in 2019. The country's para-athletes shattered records and delivered an unprecedented medal haul at world championships.

Jhajharia also sounded confident that they will continue the momentum in Tokyo. 

"I am confident that the country's para-athletes will do well in Tokyo. I am expecting 15 medals. The javelin throwers are doing well, five of our high jumpers are doing well in different categories, badminton team is also very good," he said.

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