The last batch of India’s triumphant Paralympic athletes, including shooting sensation Avani Lekhara and shuttler-cum-bureaucrat Suhas Yathiraj, returned home to a rousing reception on Monday, their supporters and families thronging IGI airport, in New Delhi, for a glimpse of the heroes.
India won an unprecedented 19 medals, including five gold, eight silver, and six bronze, to sign off the country’s best-ever Paralympics campaign in 24th place in the overall tally on Sunday.
The last batch of India’s para-athletes, who returned on Monday evening were the badminton contingent, shooters, and recurve archery team.
Among the medal-winning para-athletes who returned to a grand welcome were 19-year-old Lekhara, who won a gold and bronze, gold-winning shuttlers Pramod Bhagat and Krishna Nagar, silver-medallist Yathiraj, bronze-medallist Manoj Sarkar, and triumphant shooters Singhraj Adana and Manish Narwal among others.
Suhas Lalinakere Yathiraj, who won a silver in badminton, shows off his medal amid loud applause from fans at IGI airport, in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI Photo
The athletes were received by Haryana Sports Minister and former hockey player Sandeep Singh, officials of the Paralympics Committee of India (PCI), and a swarm of fans.
Earlier on Monday, silver medal-winning table tennis player Bhavinaben Patel returned in the morning along with other athletes and officials.
All the athletes were garlanded and escorted out of the terminal by the airport’s civil defense volunteers amid thunderous applause.
The Tokyo-returned para-athletes are scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday