Indian Paralympic Committee (IPC) chief Deepa Malik expects the country’s para-athletes to make history by recording their best-ever performance at the Tokyo Games starting Tuesday.
India will field its largest contingent with 54 athletes who will compete in nine sports: archery, track and field, badminton, canoeing, shooting, swimming, powerlifting, table tennis and taekwondo.
“Absolutely, my expectations have already exceeded what I expected. This year, India is sending the largest contingent on record. I have high hopes that we will make the story, ”said Malik when asked if she expected the best display ever.
“It’s a contingent that is three times as many, we have added four more sports in the last 4-5 years between 2016-21.
“Almost two years have passed in the pandemic, but despite this there is a huge leap in the number of qualified athletes,” Malik said at a virtual press conference to launch a joint campaign with Coca Cola-owned local drink brand, Thumbs Up.
The first Indian woman to win a Paralympic medal, Malik said the statistics were encouraging for the Indian contingent.
“It is not only the qualification, it is also the acquisition of the quota on the basis of the world ranking. The stats look very bright, the athletes have done quite well in the selection trials and the kind of current world ranking they hold looks very promising.
“Because the number of participants and the number of sports have increased, we have top athletes, which gives us a very good indication that these will be a great Paralympic Games in Indian history. “
At the Rio Games in 2016, the Indian contingent returned with four medals, including two gold, one silver and one bronze.
Rio Games silver medalist Malik in the shot put, said the athletes have adapted well to the conditions in the Games Village.
Speaking of Covid restrictions, she said: “We have to submit our samples every morning for Covid testing. Before entering a place, you must give your temperature and maintain a distance. In the village there are designated alleys.
Thumbs Up, which has partnered with the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, will also unveil a campaign that includes a series of videos and other related visuals for digital and social media to keep audiences connected to the event and to the athletes. Indians participating in it.
“My journey of capacity beyond disability has been that of breaking down stereotypes and myths around disability. The partnership with Thumbs Up is a step forward in this direction, ”said Malik.
The campaign will feature six athletes, including Mariyappan Thangavelu (high jump), Sakina Khatun (weightlifting), Suyash Yadav (swimming), Navdeep (javelin), Sumit Antil (javelin throw) and Avani Lekhara (shooting).
Fighting almost daily, the protagonists wear the “taunts” they are subjected to on their T-shirts with the slogan “TaanePalatDe” as a backdrop.
Arnab Roy, Vice President and Head of Marketing, Coca Cola India and South West Asia said: “This strategic partnership is our way of showing solidarity and of saluting the courage and determination of these athletes who come from different backgrounds. but show the same heroism through thick and thin. “