India sent their biggest team yet to this year’s Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, and their Para athletics squad duly delivered, winning a total of 36 medals - 25 of which came out in the field.
Sandeep Sandeep kicked off his country’s campaign with a new javelin F44 world record on the opening day of competition at the Gelora Bung Karno Stadium.
Competing in his first Asian Para Games, the 22-year-old managed a best of 60.01m, breaking Mingjie Gao’s previous mark which had stood since 2011.
India also completed a clean sweep of the podium in the men’s high jump T42/63, with defending champion and world silver medallist Sharad Kumar leading the way with 1.90m ahead teammates Bhati Varun Singh and Thangavelu Mariyappan.
There was gold too for teammate Ekta Bhyan in the women’s club throw F32/51, while experienced athlete Deepa Malik – who became India's first female Paralympic medallist when she won shot put F53 silver at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games – secured two bronze medals.
It didn’t all go India’s way however – world number one Sundar Singh Gurjar lost out on javelin F46 gold by 51cm as Sri Lankan Herath Mudiyanselage took the win, with Paralympic champion Devendra back in fourth.
Alexsandr Svechnikov was one of 14 Para athletes from Uzbekistan to claim Asian Para Games gold – the 20-year-old reigning Paralympic and world champion seemingly untroubled as he led the javelin F12/13 field with his first throw of the competition.
Golds galore for China
However, it was China once again who enjoyed the biggest medal haul, topping the athletics medals table with an impressive 56 golds – nearly half of which were won in field events.
Paralympic champions Liwan Yang (discus, javelin and shot put F54), Liangmin Zhang (discus F11, shot put F11/12), Guoshan Wu (shot put F56/57), Xiaoyan Wen (long jump T37/38), Lijuan Zou (javelin, shot put F33/34) Mi Na (shot put F35/36/37, discus F37/38) and Juan Yao (discus and shot put F43/44/62/64) all added to their major gold-medal tallies.
Javelin throwers Zou and Yuping Zhao were also in record-breaking form.
Zhao added 86 centimetres on to her previous best in the women’s javelin F12 with her 44.96m effort; Zou also broke her own world record, throwing 22.28m in the women’s javelin F34.
World record wins
There were world records too for Malaysia’s Abdul Latif Romly (7.64m), who leapt nearly one metre further than his rivals in the men’s long jump T20; Jordan’s Ahmad Hindi (12.07m), winner of the men’s shot put F34; Uzbek Khusniddin Norbekov (16.35m), who won the men’s shot put F35; Iraqi gold medallist Garrah Tnaiash (10.88m) who added five centimetres on to the previous shot put F40 best and Iranian Amanolah Papi, who threw a javelin F57 world record of 48.60m to take silver in the men’s F56/57 event.
Iran finished second in the athletics medals table, which included a clean sweep of the men’s javelin F56/57.
It was F56 thrower Mohammad Alvanpour who claimed gold, with silver and bronze going to Amanolah Papi (48.60m) and Mohammad Khalvandi (48.01m) respectively – both of whom surpassed the previous F57 world record.