It’s a silver worth its weight in gold for Indian discus thrower Yogesh Kathuniya, who trained for the Paralympics without a coach and is quite proud to have finished on the podium without any tangible guidance for over one year now. The 24-year-old, a B.Com graduate from New Delhi’s Kirorimal College, sent the disc to a best distance of 44.38m in his sixth and last attempt to clinch the silver.
”That was amazing. Winning the silver has given me so much more motivation to get the gold medal at Paris 2024,” he said in the mixed zone. Kathuniya said preparing for the Games was hard for him as lockdowns ensured that facilities were closed for a major part of the last two years.
”In the last 18 months the preparations have been very tough. In India there was a six month lockdown so every stadium was closed,” he said. ”When I could return to the stadium on a daily basis I had to practice by myself. I couldn’t have a coach then and I am still training without a coach. It was a great moment that I could win the silver medal without a coach,” he added. Son of an Army man, Kathuniya suffered a paralytic attack at the age of eight which left him with coordination impairments in his limbs. Kathuniya said he would work harder to finish on top the next time. ”I am going to work hard. I was just one metre away from the gold medal here, but in Paris I will want to break the world record,” he said. ”Today was not my day as I was fully prepared to break the world record here, but that was a barrier I just could not break today.” Brazil’s defending champion, reigning world champion and world record holder Claudiney Batista dos Santos won the gold with a best throw of 45.59m while Leonardo Diaz Aldana (43.36m) of Cuba took the bronze.
In F56 classification, athletes have full arm and trunk muscle power. Pelvic stability is provided by some to full ability to press the knees together. He won a bronze medal in the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai with a best throw of 42.51m which also booked him a Tokyo berth.
It was during his time at the KMC that his potential was noticed by several coaches and he soon came under the tutelage of Satyapal Singh at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. A few years later, he came under the guidance of coach Naval Singh.
He created a world record in F36 category in his first ever international competition in 2018 at the Para-athletics Grand Prix in Berlin.