Saturday (Indian time) brought double joy for India as paralympians Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati clinched the country’s first medals at the ongoing Rio Paralympics.
The 20-year-old Thangavelu is the first Indian high-jumper to win a gold medal at the Games and is the third Indian to win a gold at Paralympics after Murlikant Petkar (Swimming, 1972 Heidelberg) and Devendra Jhajharia (Javelin Throw, 2004 Athens).
T-42 is a disability sport classification for differently-abled track and field athletes with single ‘above the knee’ amputations or a disability that is comparable.
Thangavelu is from Periavadagampatti, a village 50km from Salem, in Tamil Nadu. He has no use of his right leg below the knee ever since it was damaged in a bus accident when he was five.
Yet Thangavelu finished second in his first competition with able-bodied athletes. He qualified for Rio by clearing a height of 1.78 meters at IPC Grand Prix in Tunisia.
Obviously proud of the achievement of the paralympians, Gursharan Singh, vice-president of the Paralympic Committee of India, told NDTV, “We know how we performed in the Olympics and now you will see how we perform in Paralympics. We all know the facilities given to Olympians and how many medals they got and we will see how our Paralympians perform.”
India is level at 24th place with Argentina, Belarus, Ireland and Kenya. China is leading the tally with 20 Gold while the United States is in the fourth place with three.
Thangavelu will be awarded Rs.75 lakh and Bhati, Rs.30 lakh as per an earlier announcement by the Sports Ministry for Rio Paralympians.
Mariyappan Thangavelu’s gold medal jump in Men’s T42 High Jump #Paralympics pic.twitter.com/2KhLdMcBJD — Reddit Indian Sports (@redditIndSports) 10 September 2016
Mariyappan Thangavelu’s gold medal jump in Men’s T42 High Jump #Paralympics pic.twitter.com/2KhLdMcBJD
— Reddit Indian Sports (@redditIndSports) 10 September 2016