Mariyappan Thangavelu: India’s Paralympics Hero

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Mariyappan Thangavelu: India’s Paralympics Hero

Mariyappan Thangavelu is an Indian Paralympic high jumper. He scripted history by bagging the gold medal in the men’s T42 high jump on the second day of 2016 Summer Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Let us know about his life story –

Mariyappan Thangavelu was born on 28 June 1995 in Periavadagampatti, in Salem district of Tamil Nadu. He has four brothers and a sister. His father abandoned the family during Mariyappan childhood. His mother, Saroja raised her children as a single mother. She worked as a laborer and later started selling vegetables on a cycle to earn bread for her family.

At the age of five, Mariyappan suffered permanent disability in his right leg when he was run over by a drunk bus driver while going to the school. The bus crushed his leg below the knee causing it to become stunted.

His mother took a loan of 3 lakh rupees for the treatment but unfortunately, he was left with permanent disability.

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Despite this setback, he continued his studies and completed his secondary schooling. He didn’t saw himself anyhow different from able-bodied kids.

Mariyappan wanted to become a volleyball player as a student, but his physical education instructor encouraged him to try him jumping. At the age of 14, he played in a competitive event in which he was placed second among a field of able-bodied competitors. This victory encouraged him to win many medals at school and college levels.

In 2013, during Para-Athletics Championship Mariyappan was spotted by coach Satyanarayana, who took him to Bengaluru for further training. Mariyappan honed his skills at the Sports Academy of India center for differently abled in Bengaluru. Within just a year and half of training at Bengaluru, he became World No. 1 in 2015.

In 2016 he cleared a distance of 5 ft 10 inch in the Men’s high jump T-42 event at the IPCGrand Pix in Tunisia, qualifying him for the Rio Paralympics.

In 2016, Summer Paralympics he became India’s first Paralympic Athlete to win the gold medal in Men’s high jump T-42 event with a leap of 6 ft 2 inch.

He received ”Padma Shri” and ”Arjuna Award” in 2017 for his contribution towards sports. 

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