New Delhi: The 2004 Athens Paralympics changed the life of Devendra Jhajharia, a para-athlete and javelin thrower who is now India’s first paralympian to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. Also Read - Promise to Bring Many More Laurels to The Country: Rohit Sharma After Khel Ratna Honour
On Tuesday, National Sports Day and birth anniversary of hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand, Jhajharia and former India hockey captain Sardar Singh received the country’s top sports award from president Ram Nath Kovind at a ceremony held at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Also Read - Final List Out; Rohit Sharma, Vinesh Phogat Among Five Athletes to Receive Khel Ratna
Jhajharia’s second Paralympics gold in the F46 event in Rio last year won him the Khel Ratna. Also Read - Sprinter Hima Das Nominated For Khel Ratna Award by Assam Government
Coming from Churu district in Rajasthan, Jhajharia was born in a low-income family. Misfortune struck when he lost his left hand at the age of eight. Devendra was trying to climb a tree and accidentally touched an electric wire.
But coach Ripudaman Singh’s arrival in Devendra’s life changed things for him. The coach spotted his talent during a school para-athletics event and egged him on to take sports seriously.
Four years after he made his India debut at the 2002 Asian Games, Jhajharia made the world sit up and take notice at the Athens Paralympics and subsequently received the Arjuna Award in 2005 and Padma Shri in 2012, becoming the first paralympian to win the honour.
Another proud moment arrived in Devendra’s career when he was announced as India’s flagbearer at the 2016 Rio Paralympics.
He works with the Indian Railways.