Tokyo Paralympics: Harvinder Singh wins historic archery bronze in men's individual recurve

Harvinder Singh in action during the men's individual recurve semifinal Alex Davidson/Getty Images for International Paralympic Committee

Harvinder Singh made history by becoming the first ever Indian archer to medal at the Paralympics by beating South Korea's Su Min Kim 6-5 in the bronze medal playoff in the men's individual recurve open event at the Tokyo 2021 Paralympics on Friday.

Singh, 31, was leading 5-3 in the bronze playoff, before the Korean clinched the fifth set shooting a perfect 10 to force a shoot-off where the Indian responded in style shooting a perfect 10 against Kim's 8 for a 6-5 (26-24, 27-29, 28-25, 25-25, 26-27) (10-8) win.

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World No.23 Singh was the first athlete from India to win a gold medal at a major para competition in the 2018 Asian Games.

Earlier in the day, Harvinder beat Italy's Stefano Travisani 6-5 to enter the round of 16, where he beat RPC's Bato Tsydendorzhiev to enter the quarterfinals. He then beat faces Germany's Maik Szarszewski 6-2 in the quarterfinals to enter the semis, where he lost 6-4 to USA's Kevin Mather.

Harvinder, born in a farming family in the Ajitnagar village in Haryana's Kaithal district, lost the ability to move his legs properly when he was a year and half old, due to the adverse effects of an injection during a bout of dengue.

He took up archery while pursuing a doctorate in economics at the Punjabi University in Patiala, where he first saw archers in training, and was also motivated by watching the sport at the 2012 London Paralympics. Harvinder would train twice a day - in the morning and evening, and study during the afternoons and late nights.

At the 2018 Asian Para Games - his third international competition - Harvinder shot to fame after winning India's first ever para archery gold at the event. He would dedicate the medal to his mother, whom he lost just 20 days before the tournament. Harvinder would continue his success in 2019, when he won bronze at the Asian Para Archery Championships in Bangkok.

When his training stopped due to covid lockdown in 2020, Harvinder moved back to his village and set up a target on his family farm in order to stay in shape for Tokyo. At the 2020 Games, Singh has a chance to become India's first ever para-archery Olympic medallist.

(With inputs from PTI)