Growing up in his native village in Rajasthan, Devendra was the victim of an unfortunate accident when he was eight years old. While climbing a tree he accidentally touched a live electric cable and was electrocuted. Despite being given immediate medical attention, the incident resulted in amputation of the left arm, on the suggestions of the doctors.
Devendra was spotted by Dronacharya Awardee coach RD Singh in 1997 during a school sports day event. RD Singh encouraged him to take up sport full time and helped guide Devendra on his early sporting endeavours. He soon moved to college in 2000, and was introduced to the sport of javelin throw by coach Dr. Satyapal Singh.
In 2002 Devendra won the gold medal at the FESPIC Games in Korea. He qualified for his first Paralaympic Games in 2004 in Athens, where he went on to set a new world record with a distance of 62.15m, eclipsing the old mark of 59.77m; the throw won him the gold medal at the Paralympics. An Arjuna Award followed his performance in Athens and in 2012 he was also conferred the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award.
Having created history by becoming the first Indian to win a Paralympic gold in 2004, Devendra once again rewrote the history books by winning another gold medal and breaking his own previous record, 12 years later, at the recently concluded Rio Paralympics. What makes his achievement even better is the fact that his sporting discipline wasn’t a part of the 2008 and 2012 editions of the Paralympics. Thus, he has in fact, defended his 2004 Athens gold medal.
Having experienced success at the highest level, Devendra now plans to give back to the sport by mentoring future Paralympians for India.
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