Three foul attempts, but promising Indian thrower Yogesh Kathuniya didn't give up hope to claim the bronze medal in men's discus throw F56 final at the Dubai 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai on Tuesday. In doing so, Kathuniya also booked the seventh Tokyo 2020 qualification spot for India in Para Athletics, before Praveen Kumar joined him with a fourth-place finish in the men's high jump T64 final last evening. He attained a personal best clearing the bar at 1.92 metres.
Under International Paralympic Committee rules, the top four ranked athletes at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in each of the individual medal events on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Programme (excluding marathon) will each obtain one qualification slot for their respective country.
The 23-year-old Kathuniya hurled the discus to a distance of 42.05 metres in his sixth attempt to take the bronze. For most part of the game, he stayed in the second place behind eventual winner Brazilian Claudiney Batista dos Santos (45.92m) but Iran's Ali Mohammadyari was lucky to manage just one right attempt in his last - a 43.51 metres - to take the silver.
In fact, there was a protest from the Iranian after he was disqualified by the jury.
"After the first three fouls, I threw the next three easy. There was no pressure on me. I just wanted to make a mark in my first World Championships and finally, I did it. I am happy to get the bronze," Kathuniya told Paralympic Committee of India.
"It was my first major Championships and a big learning experience here. And when I go back, I will work on my technique with my coach," said Kathuniya, who trains under Naval Singh at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. The medal also came on a "special day" for the youngster as he completed three years in Para sport on the day.
"Today I completed three years in Para Athletics. Its my life now. But we need to be mentally and physically fit, thus I play sports and love studies as well," said Kathuniya, who is pursuing his Masters in Commerce from Kirori Mal College in Delhi University.
He now eagerly looks forward to get home in Bahadurgarh, Haryana. "My parents will be really proud that I have qualified for the Paralympics. It's a big thing for them. Now my focus is to start training for Tokyo 2020," he added.
India now have two gold, one silver and two bronze from this Championships.