One of India’s best Paralympic athlete, Devendra Jhajharia has announced he will hang his boots after the ongoing Para-Asian Games in Jakarta, where India has sent a contingent comprising of as many as 300 athletes. Jhajharia, a recipient of Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna as well as Arjuna award, has won two Paralympic golds in his 16 years of glorious career.
Jhajharia’s decision has come on the back of his periodic shoulder injury which has hampered his performances over the years. In an interview with The Times of India, he had said,
“I am 37… I am not getting any younger. My right shoulder (a tear injury on the back side of shoulder) is causing me a lot of trouble and I have reached a stage in my career when I need to take care of my body. After competing for 16 long years and serving the nation with pride, I think it’s the right time for me to call it quits.”
He also mentioned that the thought of retiring from the sporting circle first occurred to him a year back and has already consulted with his childhood coach R D Singh over it. Jhajharia is the only Indian to win two Paralympic golds (2004 Athens Paralympic Games; javelin F44/46 event) and 2016 Rio Games (javelin F46 event).
Jhajharia lost his left hand at the tender age of 8 when he was electrocuted by a live wire while climbing a tree. Try as they might, but the doctors were forced to abscise his hand. The break in Devendra’s career came when he was 16. Plying his trade in school’s sports program – in 1997 – he was spotted by RD Singh, who would go on to become his lifetime mentor.
Devendra is married to Manju and many are unaware of the fact that his wife is a national level kabaddi player. The couple also has two children together.
Riding with all the optimism as he could, Jhajharia’s first international gold medal came in the 8th FESPIC Games in South Korea. Two years later, he went on to represent India at the 2004 Summer Paralympic Games at Athens. Striking a throw of 62.15m, Jhajharia broke the world record – previously set at 59.77m – en route to winning gold.
Following his glory in Athens, he was honoured with the Arjuna award in 2004. Since then, his career went on an all-time high; securing gold at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon in 2013, followed by a silver at the 2014 Asian Para Games at Incheon in South Korea.
A year later, he secured another silver at 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships and went on to better his feat a year later, when he bagged gold at the 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championship in Dubai. The same year, he registered another world-record by throwing a massive 63.97 metres en route to winning his second Paralympic gold in Rio.
Devendra Jhajharia’s hard work and determination don’t just need an applause, but also a well-deserved recognition. We wish him a great life post retirement.