Ace javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia first made a name for himself when he set a new world record at the 2002 Paralympics with a throw of 62.15m, eclipsing the old one of 59.77m, to win a gold medal in men’s F46 event. After 12 years, he bettered his own record at the Rio Paralympics, to become the only Indian to have two gold medals.
But after 16 years of endurance, Jhajharia feels that now his body is not responding well to injuries, forcing him to mull over calling times on his sporting career after having done with the Para Asian Games.
“You get all kinds of challenges after a certain age,” 37-year-old Jhajharia tells The Sunday Guardian, adding, “I have been in the Indian team since 2002. It’s been 16 years and for a javelin thrower it is very challenging to continue for so long.”
Jhajharia, who is in Indonesia for the Para Asian Games, considers himself fit for the event starting from 6 October, but is highly unsure of presenting competition at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
He lost his left hand at the age of eight. But not letting the disability hamper his spirits, he has achieved what no other Indian athlete, able-bodied or otherwise, has done before. He is also the first Paralympian to be conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna — India’s highest sporting honour.
Executing the javelin throw with one arm raises the probabilities of injuries further and Jhajharia has encountered them throughout. He is recuperating from the tear injury in his shoulder and is not giving his body much stress ahead of the Asian Games.
“I have reduced the strengthening work and I am not working out much because it is also important for the body to recover from the training,” he said.
“I am thinking about it (retirement). I have a number of injuries as well. I have a shoulder injury too; it is the biggest trouble for a javelin thrower. I am trying to deal with them, but the recovery time also increases with age,” he says with a sense of disappointment.
“I will consider it all along after the Asian Games. I will sit with my coaches, family and friends and will decide on playing further,” he concludes.
However, despite all the odds, Jhajharia is confident of a good show at Jakarta. His event is lined up on 11 October.