The Asian Games 2023 in Hangzhou, China, was soon followed by the Asian Para Games 2023, which had the motto ‘Hearts meet, Dreams shine,’ symbolising the ties between the Asian countries. India finished fifth in the medal tally with an impressive total of 111 medals—29 gold, 31 silver, and 51 bronze. This overshadowed the country’s Asiad tally, which stood at 107 medals—28 gold, 38 silver, and 41 bronze.
While crossing 100-plus medals seemed feasible once the Games commenced, it seemed close to impossible given India’s track record at the last three editions of the Asian Para Games.
The Asian Para Games made its debut in 2010 in Guangzhou, China, where India managed to clinch only 14 medals: one gold, four silver, and nine bronze. In the 2014 event held in Incheon, South Korea, India placed 15th with a total of 33 medals. Before 2023, India’s best performance at the Asian Para Games came at the 2018 Jakarta Games, where it bagged 72 medals and finished ninth.
Not only did the 2023 edition see India’s best ever performance at the Asian Para Games, but it was also the country’s highest gold medal tally at this event, with the previous highest being in 2018, with a difference of 14 gold medals between the two editions.
The Indian para-athletics squad made the most of the occasion, securing almost half of the country’s total medals in the Games. With a total of 55 medals—18 gold, 17 silver, and 20 bronze—the para-athletics contingent led the country’s medal tally count, followed by 21 medals from the para-badminton team. Ankur Dhama, 29, became the first Indian to win two gold medals as he cruised through the men’s 1,500m T11 and 5,000m T11 events.
The javelin throw event saw two world records being broken by Indians on the same day. First, reigning Paralympic and world champion Sumit Antil successfully defended his gold medal while also improving his world record in the men’s javelin F64 event with a massive throw of 73.29m in his third attempt. He bettered his 70.83-metre mark he achieved at the World Para Athletics Championships in Paris earlier this year.
The second world record was broken by Sundar Singh Gurjar in the men’s javelin throw (F46 final) to win gold with a 68.60m throw in his sixth and final attempt. The Indian broke Sri Lankan Dinesh Priyantha’s previous world record of 67.79m, while two other Indians in the event, Rinku and Ajeet Singh, won silver and bronze, ensuring a 1-2-3 podium finish for the country. This was not the first podium sweep that India saw at this Games; the country also won all three medals in the men’s club throw F51, men’s rapid chess VI-B1, and men’s discus throw F54/55/56 events.
Among the Indian paraarchers, it was Sheetal Devi, a 16-year-old armless archer from Jammu and Kashmir, who made heads turn. With her triple medal feat in compound archery—two gold and one silver—she became the first Indian female athlete to win two gold medals and the world’s first armless archer to participate and win at this Games. Her fellow mixed-team gold medal-winning partner, Rakesh Kumar, also grabbed three medals.
The triple-medal feat was also achieved by para-badminton players Pramod Bhagat and Thulasimathi Murugesan.
As expected, the host country, China, was ranked first in the medal table with 521 medals—214 gold, 167 silver, and 140 bronze—dominating in most of the events. It was followed by Iran, Japan, and South Korea.
Nagoya, Japan, is scheduled to host the next Asian Para Games from October 14 to 22, 2026.
With this Asian Para Games edition being rescheduled by a year due to COVID-19 and acting as one of the major tournaments ahead of the Paris Paralympics 2024, all eyes will be on the medal-winning athletes to scale up their performances in the French capital.
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