Devendra Jhajharia (born 10 June 1981) is an Indian Paralympic javelin thrower competing in F46 events. The first Indian Paralympian to win two gold medals at the Paralympics, he won his first gold in the javelin throw at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens, becoming only the second gold medalist at the Paralympics for his country. At the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, he won a second gold medal in the same event, bettering his previous record. Devendra is currently being supported by the GoSports Foundation through the Para Champions Programme.
Early life and background
Devendra Jhajharia was born in 1980 and hails from the Churu District in Rajasthan. At the age of eight, climbing a tree he touched a live electric cable. He received medical attention but the doctors were forced to amputate his left hand. In 1997 he was spotted by Dronacharya Awardee coach R. D. Singh while competing at a school sports day, and from that point was coached by Singh. He gave credit to his personal coach R. D. Singh for 2004 Paralympic Gold Medal, saying: “He gives me a lot of advice and helps me during training.”
In 2002 Jhajharia won the gold medal in the 8th FESPIC Games in South Korea. In 2004 Jhajharia qualified for his first Summer Paralaympic Games representing India at Athens. At the games he set a new world record with a distance of 62.15m eclipsing the old one of 59.77m. The throw gave him the gold medal and he became only the second gold medalist at the Paralympics for his country (India’s first gold medal came from Murlikant Petkar).
Further athletic success came in 2013 at the IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France when he took the gold medal in the F46 javelin throw. He followed this with a silver medal at the 2014 Asian Para Games at Incheon in South Korea. At the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships in Doha, despite throwing 59.06, Jhajharia could only finish in second place, claiming silver behind China’s Guo Chunliang, who threw a championship record distance.
In 2016, he won a gold medal at the 2016 IPC Athletics Asia-Oceania Championship in Dubai. At the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, he won the gold medal in the men’s javelin throw F46 event, bettering his own 2004 record with a world-record throw of 63.97 metres.
A former Indian Railways employee, Jhajharia is currently employed with the Sports Authority of India. His wife, Manju, is a former nationally ranked kabaddi player; the couple have two children.
Awards and recognition
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna (2017)
- FICCI Para-Sportsperson of the Year (2014)
- Padma Shri (2012; first Paralympian to be so honoured).
- Arjuna Award (2004)