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Tokyo 2020 Paralympics

Tokyo Paralympics: Mariyappan Thangavelu wins medal after missing out on opening ceremony because of COVID scare

Mariyappan Thangavelu rises up to the occasion to win silver medal at Tokyo Paralympics after he missed out on the opening ceremony following a Covid scare.

Mariyappan Thangavelu

Mariyappan Thangavelu (Source: Times of India)


Md Imtiaz

Published: 31 Aug 2021 12:34 PM GMT

Indian high-jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu on Tuesday clinches silver to the medal to add to India's count at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics. Thangavelu was defending the T-42 gold he had won in 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Mariyappan cleared 1.86m while the American gold winner Sam Grewe succeeded in soaring above 1.88m in his third attempt.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said: "Soaring higher and higher! Mariyappan Thangavelu is synonymous with consistence and excellence. Congratulations to him for winning the Silver Medal. India is proud of his feat."

Before the Paralympics began, Mariyappan was decided to be the flag-bearer for India at the Paralympics. However, he was replaced by javelin thrower Tek Chand as India's flag-bearer for the Paralympics opening ceremony on August 24 after he came in close contact with a COVID positive person during his flight to Tokyo.

At the age of five, Mariyappan had suffered permanent disability in his right leg when he was run over by a drunken bus driver while walking to school. His leg got crushed below the knee, causing it to become stunted. Despite this setback, he completed secondary schooling and didn't see himself as different from able-bodied kids. In his first competitive event, aged 14, he was placed second among a field of able-bodied competitors, after which he received strong encouragement from his classmates and others in Salem district. In 2013, his current coach, Mr. Satyanarayana, supported by the Sports Academy of India for differently-abled, first noticed his performance at the Indian National Para Athletics Championships, and formally took him on as a student in 2015, bringing him to Bengaluru for further coaching. Satyanarayana motivated hima lot to pursue para sports and started training him. Mariyappan believes that it is this training from Satyanarayana that made him win the gold medal at the Rio Paralympic Games 2016, and now has got him selected for the Tokyo Paralympics 2020.

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