W Power 2024

Sumit Antil: Made to break and create new records

Para-athlete Sumit Antil holds the world record for the farthest javelin throw in the history of para-sports. His next target is gold at the 2024 Paris Paralympics and setting a new world record

Rucha Sharma
Published: Mar 4, 2024 11:36:14 AM IST
Updated: Mar 4, 2024 12:10:46 PM IST

Sumit Antil
Image: Amit Verma; Directed By: Kapil Kashyap; Outfit: Saggar Mehra; Styled By: Aarushi GaurSumit Antil Image: Amit Verma; Directed By: Kapil Kashyap; Outfit: Saggar Mehra; Styled By: Aarushi Gaur

Sumit Antil | 25
Para athlete

 
Sumit Antil sits down for a conversation with Forbes India on the cold morning of Lohri, but there appears nothing cooler than his attitude. He is calm and composed beyond his age, and carries the confidence of a world record holder and gold medallist Paralympian.

This attitude comes from having a clear vision of what he wants to achieve, from training every day for that target, from not making it about the medals but focusing on becoming the best in his sport.

Young Antil wanted to be a wrestler—like many others from his hometown. But a motorbike accident when he was 17 left him with an amputated leg and changed the course of his life. He focussed more on his studies but continued to work on his physique to stay fit. A chance meeting with a para athlete from his village introduced him to para sports. “I never wanted to sail in two boats at the same time. Once I decided I wanted to play, I gave it my all, my 100 percent. For the past seven years, I have maintained the discipline to be the best,” says the 25-year-old.

And this dedication has paid off for the youngster from Sonipat, Haryana. From the first national championship he entered, Antil has been breaking and setting new national records. The first time he broke the world record in the F64 category of para javelin throw was at the World Para Athletics Grand Prix in Italy in 2019. (The F64 category is for athletes with a leg amputation who compete with prosthetics in a standing position.) He followed that with a gold at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics—Antil set a new world record with three throws, 66.95 m, 68.08 m and 68.55 m.

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But a medal was never a priority; field dominance was. Look at his performance since Tokyo: 70.83 m record and a gold at the 2023 World Para Athletics Championship in Paris, 73.29 m record and a gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games. This podium is Antil’s favourite so far because even after the Paralympics gold, the farthest throw in para history was the milestone he wanted to reach.

“Sumit is a hardworking boy. As 2023 began, his dream was to claim the longest throw of para javelin. He put everything into practice and never missed a day [of training]. And the result is in front of you,” says Arun Kumar, his coach. “When it comes to changing the perspective of para athletes in India, Sumit has played a significant role. By registering new world records 13 times, Sumit has become a legend in India. So, new athletes are not thinking about medals; they also want to set new world records like Sumit and make India proud.”

Sumit Antil
Image: Amit Verma; Directed By: Kapil Kashyap; Outfit: Saggar Mehra; Styled By: Aarushi Gaur

This success, though, is not without challenges. These throws put pressure on Antil’s leg, where the stub fits into the prosthetic, and on the back. So, keeping the body injury-free is one of the biggest challenges he tackles every game. The next target is to touch the 80 m mark, and he has set his sights on the 2024 Paris Paralympics. “Our schedule is planned to the last detail—from how big I need to go in the qualifiers to the final throws at various competitions before Paris. Now we are hoping that just like Tokyo, we will bring the gold home, with a world record, of course.”

(This story appears in the 23 February, 2024 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)