India sets Paralympics record in Tokyo with largest contingent

The Tokyo 2020 Paralympics Games, which opened this week, goes on till September 5 covering 539 medal events across 22 sports and 21 venues in Japan. India has deployed its largest contingent ever to the Games, with 54 para-athletes to compete in nine sporting disciplines.

India's youngest-ever Deputy Chef De Mission, Arhan Bagati, will lead the country's first batch of athletes at the Games. The 22-year-old Liberal Arts Graduate from Pomona College, US, has been the goodwill ambassador for Paralympics since 2015 and is now the youngest Deputy Chef De Mission in the world at the Tokyo Paralympics.

He had helped the Paralympic Committee of India organise and manage the 'Sports For Development Run' in 2014, eventually becoming the 'Awareness and Impact Ambassador' of the Paralympic Committee of India in 2015.

The youngster has also been the driving force behind the success of some of India's best para-athletes, Mariyappa Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati, both of whom he sponsored by donating his entire pocket money. Mariyappan went on to win gold, and Varun Singh Bhati bagged a bronze medal at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016.

India's previous largest-ever contingent for the Paralympics was at Rio 2016 – where 19 athletes represented the country in five sports. It ended up being India's best-ever performance at a Summer Paralympics with a total of four medals – two golds, one silver and one bronze.

Tokyo 2020 has become the biggest Paralympic Games ever, with a record number of athletes taking part. In total 4,403 athletes (2,550 male/1,853 female) will compete across 22 sports and 23 disciplines.

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons said: "It is absolutely fantastic news that more women than ever before will compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and a lot of credit needs to go to NPCs and International Federations for ensuring this continued growth in numbers.

“Although we are still some way short of gender parity, we are heading in the right direction with the number of women competing at the Paralympics almost doubling since the Sydney 2000 Paralympics."


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