Dubai, Feb 14 (IANS) Teenaged high jumpers Praveen Kumar and Nishad Kumar produced personal best jumps to take a gold medal each and set new Asian records as curtains came down on the 12th Fazza World Para Athletics Grand Prix here.
Praveen’s and Nishad’s gold medal winning efforts were the high points in the final day’s action for India who also had three silver and a bronze on Saturday, to end their campaign at the championships with 23 medals.
At the end of the competition, India were among the top finishers in the medal tally with Thailand returning home with 34 medals, while Turkey, Kenya and India finished with 23 medals. The hosts UAE ended with 14 medals, including two silvers, by their paralympic medallist middle-distance racer Mohammed Al Hammadi.
After a stellar show from the Indian javelin throwers on Day 3, expectations were high from the high jumpers and they didn’t disappoint.
Eighteen-year-old Praveen’s 2.05m jump was enough to make a new Asian record and fetch him the gold in men’s high jump F42/44/64 event. He finished ahead of former Asian Para Games gold medallist and fellow Indian Sharad Kumar (1.76 m) and Hamada Hassan who also cleared the 1.76m bar.
“I managed a very good jump today. I am very happy that I got my personal best here. After so long I was competing, so I was a bit nervous. But all my hard work paid off here today. Also thanks to my coach Satyapal Sir who has been guiding me in my training,” said the 2019 World Junior silver medallist.
“I want to win the gold at Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. I will need to work very hard to achieve my target,” he added.
This was Praveen’s first senior international gold in his second senior event after the Dubai 2019 Worlds where he had booked a quota with his fourth-place finish.
In one of the last events of the day, Nishad, who already has booked a quota for India with his bronze medal finish at the Dubai 2019 Worlds, leapt to his personal best 2.06 m for the gold and an Asian record in men’s high jump T46/47 event.
Congratulating the team, Paralympic Committee of India president Deepa Malik said: “Our para-athletes have made us really very proud. This championship was important in regard to their returning back to shape in the build up to Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, besides giving exposure to a few new faces.”
“The championship was also the season opener for Para Athletics after more than a year’s gap, so a good performance will definitely boost their confidence. We are delighted that our athletes delivered what was expected from them,” she added.
Earlier, Simran won her second medal in the championships -a silver in women’s 400m final T13 event crossing the finish line in 1:01.56 minutes. Simran already had a gold in the women’s 100m T13.
Bhagyashri Mahavr Jadhav claimed the silver in women’s shot put F34 event with a throw of 6.18 m finishing second to Morocco’s Saida Amoudi (8.33 m).
Atul Kaushik claimed the bronze in men’s discus F57 event clearing a distance of 42.00 m.