Mariyappan Thangavelu, the first Indian paralympian to win a Gold medal in high jump at any of the Paralympics in which India has participated, has now shown that he also has a heart of gold.
Thangavelu has donated Rs.30 lakh to his school, Government Higher Secondary School at his village Periyavadagampatti in Salem district of Tamil Nadu.
Thangavelu hails from a poor family. His mother sells vegetables and his family reportedly has to pay off a loan of Rs.3 lakh.
It was here at the school that Thangavelu practiced hard to become what he is today.
The Tamil Nadu native leaped 1.89 meters at the ongoing Rio Paralympic Games 2016 to clinch the Gold beating Sam Grewe of the United States (Silver) and his own compatriot Varun Singh Bhati (Bronze) – each finishing with 1.86 meters.
Thangavelu was five when he was hit by a truck driven by a drunk man – an accident which permanently damaged his right leg.
Yet the 21-year-old did not lose hope for a bright future. Hailing from the small village of Periyavadagampatti, Thangavelu continued his education and his high jump practice at the school.
That practice paid off in Brazil.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa announced a reward of Rs.2 crore for the spirited athlete. There was another reward of Rs.75 lakh, already announced by the Centre for each Gold medal winner.
He will soon be sitting for his BBA final exams at the AVS College of Arts and Science at Ramalingapuram.