Breaking records one throw at a time – The Rise of Sumit Antil

Last few weeks have been a delight for athletics enthusiasts, especially for javelin fans. We had our ‘golden boy’ Neeraj Chopra competing in India for the first time post his Tokyo 2020 Olympic win. We also have another record breaker from India who is smashing records with every javelin throw. His name is Sumit Antil.

While Sumit came into the limelight with his Tokyo 2020 Paralympic gold, he has been at his peak for the past few years. He has been garnering gold medals since 2019 in F64 category (affected movement in one or both legs) in almost every tournament. Just last week he successfully defended his title at the World Athletics Championship in Kobe, Japan. But it’s not the medal tally that is impressive, it is the distance that he covers with each throw of the javelin that makes him stand out. With a throw of 68.55m in Tokyo, he broke his previous personal best of 62.88m. Most athletes would be satisfied and bask in the glory of a gold medal. But Antil is different, and his best was yet to come. His throw of 73.29 m at the Hangzhou Asian Para Games 2023 is the farthest anybody has thrown across all categories in para-athletics. Also, the margin of wins is nothing short of a champion. At the 2023 Paris World Championships, the throw from Michal Burian of Australia was more than five meters short of that mark, while at the 2023 Asian Para Games, Sri Lanka’s Arachchige Kodithuwakku came up with a throw that was nine meters short. While his dominance has been achieved with conviction, Sumit’s hunger is still pushing him towards the 80 m mark.

Now that we have some idea about Sumit the athlete, let us take a sneak peek into Sumit the man. This 25-year-old from Sonipat, Haryana was into sports since childhood and aspired to become a wrestler following his idol, Yogeshwar Dutt. However, a bike accident led to his leg being amputated below the knee and crushing his dream of wrestling. Post his accident, while he was still getting used to walking with his prosthetic leg., he learned about Paralympics from a fellow athlete. With his undying passion for sport firing him up, Sumit shed blood, sweat and tears. Taking everything in his stride has helped him overcome challenges and become the person he is today.

Some feel that we have seen the best of Sumit and he should enjoy this purple patch. But most people believe that Sumit is here to stay and reign supreme like a king. His determination towards breaching the 80 m mark is in itself a source of inspiration. It truly embodies the phrase – “Where no man has gone before”.

As we inch closer to the Paris Paralympics, the excitement of seeing Sumit defend his title and stand on the podium is very much there but the sense of inquisitiveness is also looming. Will he be able to cross the 80 m? Will he be able to win the Paralympic gold in style? Only time will tell but one thing is for sure, the cheering will be loudest no matter what!

By Avani Nagar, AISTS INDIA CohortJanuary 2024

Experience the world of sport in the Olympic Capital

All PGCP participants will have the option to visit Lausanne, the Olympic Capital. Participants attend several full-day workshops throughout the programme to experience sport. These sessions are delivered by the sport organisations and federations themselves and provide a unique hands-on experience