Neeraj Chopra is my inspiration : Gold Medallist Sumit Antil
India held its breath while para athlete Sumit Antil took one throw after the other with his Javelin, breaking the world record and his own Paralympics record with every subsequent throw in Tokyo. The young lad bagged the gold medal and roared his way to the podium. What went inside his mind? “Na parties pe gaya na rishtedaari nibha paya. Iss medal ke liye maine apni social life ko zero kar diya tha. Javelin mein mujhe lag bhag char saal ho gaye hai and I worked really hard to perform the way I did. Final throw ke pehle mujhe pata tha ki main jeet chuka hun. Jo mein field par dahada woh meri bahut saalon ki bhadaas thi,” he says.
Antil’s social media following sky rocketed after his win, alike Neeraj Chopra’s. When asked who his inspiration in Javelin throw is, Antil shares, “ Mera inspiration hai Neeraj Chopra Bhaisahab. Neeraj Chopra ji ki baat kare toh maine unke game ko dekh ke kafi kuch seekha. I tried to figure out the difference behind the way he is able to throw a Javelin versus a para-athlete. I found that a normal sportsperson can use the power of the ground through their legs to throw the Javelin, but a para-athlete can not do that. Lekin main try karoonga ki future mein 80 m ka throw karoon.”
A video that’s gone viral on social media is Antil’s call with the Prime Minister. “Jab Narendra Modiji ka phone aaya tha tab main podium se aaya tha aur maine pehli baar apne haath mein ek gold medal dekha tha international Paralympics mein, so I was overwhelmed and couldn’t think of saying anything except thank you. Mere muh se kuch aur nikla hi nahi kyunki woh feeling alag hi thi,” he says.
A Delhi University graduate, Antil remembers his college days fondly. “Maine Ramjas College se graduate kiya hai. Second year ke mid mein maine decide kiya tha ki 9-5 job mujhe karni nahi hai. I wanted to live the life of an athlete and so I decided to opt for non attending classes. Mere college friends ne mujhe kafi support kiya. In the beginning they weren’t aware of my accident and subsequent loss of leg. Asian games mein selection hua aur akhbaro mein mera naam aaya tab unko pata laga mere pair ke baare mein. Today they are proud of me. College ke authorities ka mere ghar pe congratulatory phone aaya tha. Campus mein main zyaada raha nahi magar Ramjas ki parties mujhe bahut yaad aati hai kyunki woh bahut zyaada awesome hoti thi.”
Where will we be seeing the champion next? “I will get a rehab done for my elbow and will try to go back to the field as soon as possible. Field se pyaar ho gaya hai. Field pe nahi hota toh mann nahi lagta. Ground pe alag hi sukoon hota hai.”
Antil was looking forward to this Paralympics with a lot of excitement. “Yeh mera pehla Paralympics tha, toh isko leke main kafi nervous, excited aur stressed tha. Jab main ground pe utara, toh main jaldi se jaldi apni first throw lena chahta tha kyunki ek ander gubaar sa bhara hua tha, jo mujhe nikalna tha. Aur meri pehli throw jab main kar raha tha toh mere mann mein tha ki aaj hi woh din hai jiske liye maine chaar-paanch saal se sab kuch chod diya. I took my attempts thinking, today is the day that I have to prove myself to the world.”
When asked what advise does Antil have for aspiring para athletes, he says, “Shuru mein ho sakta hai ki log tumhara mazak udaye, lekin kabhi down mat hona. Jo tumse jalte hai woh tumhe demotivate karne ki try karenge. Lekin demotivate mat hona. Performance se apna jawab dena. Aaj ke time mein para-athletes ki sab izzat karte hai. Jitna hard work karoge, uska phal bhagwan ek na ek din zaroor dega.”
Author tweets @FizzyBuddha