Mariyappan Thangavelu made history as he clinched the gold medal in men’s high jump T-42 at Rio Paralympics on Friday. Another Indian Varun Singh Bhati won the bronze.
Thangavelu made history by becoming the first Indian high-jumper to win a gold at the Paralympics, with a leap of 1.89 metres. Bhati jumped his personal best of 1.86 metres to finish third. While initially at the first spot, India’s other medal prospect Sharad Kumar finished at number six.
Watch Thangavelu jump to glory :
The Story Behind ( Mariyappan Thangavelu )
The 20-year-old Mariyappan hails from a small village of Periavadagampatti, 50km from Salem, in Tamil Nadu.
At the age of five, a bus accident left him with a permanent disability. He was going to school when the bus took a wrong turn and ran over Thangavelu’s right leg, damaging it below knee, according to a report in The Hindu.
But that was not a deterrent for Thangavelu to pursue his dreams. In his first competition, he competed with able-bodied athletes and finished second. His rise has been steady since then.
In March, Thangavelu cleared a height of 1.78m at the IPC Grand Prix in Tunisia, to achieve the A-Qualification Standard of 1.60 at Paralympics.
The Story Behind ( Varun Singh Bhati )
Bronze medal winner Bhati was diagnosed with polio at a very young age as one of his legs got deformed. Despite the difficulty, Bhati went on to become a champion athlete.
The 21-year-old from Uttar Pradesh finished fifth at the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon, (Korea) and won a gold medal at the 2014 China Open Athletics Championship, the same year.
The Sports Ministry had earlier announced that Indian gold medallists from the Paralympic Games will be awarded Rs 75 lakh, the silver medallists will get Rs 50 lakh while Rs 30 lakh will be given to the bronze medallists.