In another triumphant moment for India this summer Mariyappan Thangavelu won the gold medal while compatriot Varun Singh Bhati clinched the bronze in the men’s high jump T-42 event on Saturday at the Rio Paralympics.
T-42 is a disability classification in the sport for differently-abled track-and-field athletes with single ‘above the knee’ amputations or a comparable disability.
Thangavelu won gold with a best effort of 1.89m while Bhati’s best jump of 1.86m got him the bronze. USA’s Sam Grewe, also with a best jump of 1.86m, took the silver.
Sharad Kumar, however, was unable to make the podium an all Indian affair. Initially, Kumar was leading with jumps of 1.55m and 1.60m but his best of 1.77m left him out of medal contention in sixth place eventually. Poland’s Lukasz Mamczarz and China’s Zhiqiang Zhong, also had best jumps of 1.77m and finished on 4th and 5th place respectively.
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Thangavelu was rendered disabled permanently at the tender age of 5, when a bus ran over his right leg, crushing his knee. His roots belong to a small village in Tamil Nadu (Source: NDTV report). In March, he achieved the ‘A’ qualification standard of 1.60m for the Paralympics with an effort of 1.78m at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Grand Prix in Tunisia.
The story of bronze medalist Varun Singh Bhati is 360 degrees different. Suffering from poliomyelitis, which is a deformity in one leg, Varun won gold at the China Open Athletics Championship and finished fifth at the Asian Paralympic Games in Incheon, South Korea in 2014. He recorded another fifth-place finish at last year’s Para World Championship in Doha and won gold at this year’s IPC Asia-Oceania Athletics Championship.
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The 2 medals have already bettered India’s dismal performance the last time around when Girisha Nagarajegowda won silver in the men’s high jump F42 category in London. Overall India’s tally at the Paralympics stands at 10.
Thangavelu’s gold is India’s third at the Paralympics, after Murlikant Petkar in the men’s 50m freestyle swimming at the 1972 Heidelberg Games and Devendra Jhajharia, who won in javelin throw F44/46 at the 2004 Athens Paralympics is aiming for his second medal in Rio.
The Government of India in order to motivate its athletes for the Paralympics had announced cash rewards for medalists from the prestigious event at par with those that were received by the Olympic winners last month.
A total of 19 para-athletes, India’s largest-ever delegation, are representing the country at the Rio Paralympic Games, from September 7 to 18.
Here’s witnessing the historic moment yet again:
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