New Delhi: The 19-member Indian contingent has performed brilliantly in the ongoing Rio Paralympics so far. While India have already won four medals, it could easily have been five had one of the javeline throwers not failed to turn up for the event.
In the same event where Devendra Jhajharia clinched gold, Sundar Singh Gurjar – an athlete who was believed to be a sure shot medal-winner, missed out on the great opportunity since he wasn't present while the event was being held.
Along with Jhajharia, Rinku Hooda (who finished fifth with a personal best of 54.39m) and Gurjar were two other javelin throwers who were to participate in men’s F46 javelin throw event. While Jhajharia and Rinku did attend the event, Gurjar was disqualified after he didn't turn up depite his name being announced multiple times.
According to a report on NDTV's website, Gurjar was not present at the time of roll call. In his defense, his family claimed he "did not understand English" when his name was called out.
"All athletes were warming up in the same area, including Sundar," Paralympic Committee of India vice-president Gursharan Singh told NDTV. "Names of all athletes are announced multiple times for them to get to the competition area. We don't know what happened with him: was he concentrating too much on his warm-up that he missed out on the actual competition?"
Interestingly, Gurjar was expected to give Jhajharia a run for his money as he threw 70 metres during practice.
Not to forget, Devendra, whose previous best was 62.15 metres (achieved in the 2004 Games), improved the mark with an attempt of 63.97 metres at the Olympic Stadium (Engenhao).
Even Devendra was clueless about Gurjar's absence.
“I really don’t know why he was late,“ Jhajharia told Times of India. “Both of us had travelled by the same bus to the venue. He moved to the other side of the field for warm-up.
“When our names were called, Rinku (Hooda) and I went in, but Sundar wasn’t there.”
Gurjar, who hails from Rajasthan, was an able-bodied athlete, till he lost a hand in an accident last year.
Gurjar rose to fame when he crossed the 68-metre mark to surpass Jhajharia’s long-standing National record
A juice stall owner outside Gurjar’s training facility had earlier filed a police complaint of being offered Rs. 1 lakh by a stranger for allegedly spiking Gurjar’s drink.