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Mariyappan Thangavelu: An inspiration you are looking for

The fever of the summer sports is not over yet. There is much-awaited Paralympics to keep us hooked to our television set and mobile screen. Once again, we will be celebrating the glory of players, the thrill and the goosebumps of the games. But as the countdown of the games has started. Let’s dive into the gripping career of India’s Top para high-jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu who is also named the flag-bearer of the Indian contingent in the Tokyo Paralympics, which begins on August 24.

The Illustrious Career

In Rio 2016, Thangavelu triumph in the men’s high jump T42 led India’s its first Paralympic gold medal since 2004. To those of you who don’t know about his star para-athletes, let me throw some light on his exemplary sports career. He qualified for Rio in March 2016 clearing a height of 1.78m at the Grand Prix in Tunis, Tunisia. He secured Paralympic gold in Rio with a jump of 1.89m, an Asian record.

Further, he qualified for the Tokyo Paralympics after finishing third in the T-42 high jump event at the 2019 IPC World Athletics Championships in Dubai.

For his exceptional performance, he was bestowed with the Padma Shri Award, India’s fourth-highest national civilian honour in 2017.  He has also been conferred with the Khel Ratna, the country’s highest sporting award. Soon, his life, challenges, and undeterred spirit will be screened on the big screen, as it is on the way to being made into a film titled “Mariyappan” by director Aishwaryaa Dhanush. 

Humble Beginnings

Thangavelu hails from Salem district in Tamil Nadu suffered a permanent disability at a very young age. He injured his leg when a bus crushed his right leg below the knee when a bus rolled over it on his way to school. The accident stunted the growth of his leg. He was merely five years old. 

He was encouraged to take up the sport by his physical education teacher, and that is how Thangavelu got into athletics while he was just a student. In 2015, Thangavelu completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration from AVS College of Arts and Science.

Aiming Gold at Tokyo Paralympics

Mariyappan aims to win a gold medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Mariyappan, talking about the expectation and differences between Rio and Tokyo Paralympics says, “Not many believed I would go and win a medal in the 2016 Paralympics. But that’s not the case now as everyone expects a medal from me. The aim is to return with nothing but the gold,” said Mariyappan, who won with a 1.89M jump in Rio, according to a TOI report. 

“A gold and a world record in Tokyo is my target and I think I can achieve it,” he had told PTI last year.

Following his motto “Try and try again, you will succeed in the end,”  Mariyappan will be a treat to watch as he will spell his magic at the most celebrated podium. 

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