Javelin thrower Sumit Antil is not satisfied with just one gold

It is not easy to overshadow an Olympic gold medallist, but Sumit Antil did so, that too with a javelin, on August 30. The 23-year-old from Sonipat, Haryana, broke his own world record three times en route to a gold in the F64 category at the Tokyo Paralympics. He threw an impressive 68.55m.

“My competitors had prepared well, I got nervous seeing them,” he told THE WEEK. “I told myself I had been working so hard for this day. I had sacrificed everything else for javelin. I broke the world record in my first throw; it boosted my confidence and I played without fear or hesitation thereafter. Also, I knew I had done everything possible to compete at the Games.”

As expected, life has changed post Tokyo. “I had never imagined the response when I returned,” he said. “When I reached my village Khewra, there were around 10,000 people waiting to welcome me.”

In a league of his own: Antil during the javelin final in Tokyo | PTI In a league of his own: Antil during the javelin final in Tokyo | PTI

The villagers had gathered to watch his competition on television; this pleased Sumit no end. As did the 06 crore the Haryana government has promised. Other rewards are expected to follow. Former hockey Olympian and state Sports Minister Sandeep Singh welcomed him at Delhi airport; Chief Minister M.L. Khattar dropped in at his home.

Sumit, once a budding wrestler, lost his father—a retired junior warrant officer in the Air Force—when he was just six. In 2015, biking home after tuition class, Sumit had an accident; a truck ran over his left leg. It had to be amputated. It took him two years to walk.

But Sumit had always been positive. He transitioned to para-sports and took up the javelin. It was painful, and his mother cried seeing him suffer. “I told her maybe something good will come out of this,” he said.

He had a prosthetic leg, but the run-up to launch the javelin was too painful. “I would get wounds on my leg,” he said. “My biggest hurdle was to tolerate the pain. I would watch motivational videos, as I had no other option but to tolerate the pain. My entire body weight would fall on my left leg. I told myself that there were three months, two months, one month to go for the Paralympics.”

He has three prosthetics now. The one he used in Tokyo was made for throwing; another one is for running and gym work. There is one for regular use. All three are imported—Go Sports Foundation gave him one; SAI, two. He even has a reserve in case one breaks during competition.

Even as celebrations continue, it is time to focus ahead. And, not just on Paris 2024; his aim now is to throw 75m. “There is still a lot to achieve,” he said. “I am not satisfied with just one gold medal.”