It's a blockbuster day for India from Tokyo as the Indian paralympic contingent has been rewarding more cheers and histories to the country on Tuesday, thanks to their unending aplomb through which they make the country proud by breaking the barriers. While many athletes had broken the obstacles to carve history, 26-year-old Mariyappan Thangavelu, a native of Tamil Nadu, had jumped high to beat the obstacles and scripted a glorious milestone in the Indian Paralympics history after clinching the Silver medal on Tuesday, as India's medal tally has been surging like never before through ace athletes.
Mariayappan's achievement has to be celebrated as he has etched a history to win two consecutive medals in Paralympic Games. He had won the Gold medal in the category of T-42 High jump in the 2016 Rio Paralympics. He also had become the second Indian para-athlete to win a medal in two consecutive Paralympics after javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, who won Gold in Rio and Silver in the ongoing games in Tokyo. Through winning the Gold in Rio, Mariyappan also holds a record of being India's first Paralympian gold medalist since 2004.
Born in Periavadagampatti in the Salem district of Tamil Nadu, Mariyappan had suffered a permanent disability in his right leg when he was run over by a drunk bus driver while going to school. The bus crushed his leg below the knee and as his father had abandoned his family during his childhood, Mariyappan's mother had raised him along with his three siblings. Despite the odds, he had completed secondary schooling and he had worked as a newspaper hawker to support his family and during his school days, he developed an interest in sports and enjoyed playing volleyball and his school physical education coach has encouraged him to venture high jumping.
In 2013, Mariyappan's current coach Satyanarayana first noticed his performance at the Indian national para-athletics championships, and formally took him on as a student in 2015 and brought him to Bangalore for further coaching. With the intense training, Mariyappan had a major breakthrough in March 2016 when he finished big in the men's high jump competition that was held in Tunisia and through this turning point, he got a ticket for the 2016 Rio Paralympics and proved he is worth picking. He won the Gold medal in the men's high jump T-42 event, with a record high jump of 1.89m. With the Gold, he had become the third Gold medal winner for India in the Paralympic Games.
As a gold medal winner, there was a natural expectation of a medal from Mariyappan in the 2020 Tokyo Games and shouldered with the expectation, he arrived at the Japanese capital and for yet another time, he proved his grit and fulfilled the expectation by sharing the medal podium. Though not Gold, Mariyappan's Silver medal will give a crucial boost to the athletes back in his home state and country and what is more significant is that the medal podium was also shared by Mariyappan's compatriot Sharad Kumar, who won the Bronze medal in the same competition on Tuesday.
Mariyappan has assured the Silver medal after leaping the mark of 1.86m while Sharad Kumar had grabbed bronze after scaling his season-best mark of 1.83m. On the top of the podium is the US High Jumper Sam Grewe, who won the Gold with the mark of 1.88m. Another Indian and Rio 2016 bronze medalist Varun Singh Bhati had finished seventh with a season-best of 1.77m. As Mariyappan has carved a history by winning his second consecutive medal amid a medal pour for India, the entire nation has taken a bow to commend him and the leaders and celebrities had congratulated Mariyappan and Sharad Kumar for bringing two medals. It must be noted that Mariyappan has been the recipient of the Padma Shri and Arjuna Awards that were presented by the Indian government to honour his contribution and achievement.
President Ram Nath Kovind took to Twitter and wrote, "Our Paralympians continue to make us proud! India is delighted by the success of Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar for winning silver and bronze medals respectively in men's high jump at #Paralympics. Your resolve and perseverance are an inspiration for all. Congratulations!". Prime Minister Modi has called Mariyappan synonymous with consistency and excellence. Taking to the social media, the Prime Minister wrote, "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".
Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur wrote, "Mariyappan wins SILVERfor India !!! This is his 2nd consecutive #Paralympics medal, historic in so many ways! Well Played Champion!". Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin tweeted, "Happy to see #TeamIndia continue its winning streak at #Tokyo2020 #Paralympics. Congratulations to our TN star @189thangavelu who won his 2nd consecutive Paralympics medal in #HighJump,@sharad_kumar01, and #SinghrajAdhana for their #Bronze in #HighJump & #Shooting respectively."
Our Paralympians continue to make us proud! India is delighted by the success of Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar for winning silver and bronze medals respectively in men's high jump at #Paralympics. Your resolve and perseverance are an inspiration for all. Congratulations!— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 31, 2021
Soaring higher and higher!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 31, 2021
Mariyappan Thangavelu is synonymous with consistence and excellence. Congratulations to him for winning the Silver Medal. India is proud of his feat. @189thangavelu #Paralympics #Praise4Para pic.twitter.com/GGhtAgM7vU
Mariyappan wins SILVER🥈for India 🇮🇳 !!!— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) August 31, 2021
This is his 2nd consecutive #Paralympics medal, historic in so many ways!
Well Played Champion! @189thangavelu#Tokyo2020#Cheer4India #Praise4Para pic.twitter.com/bTnHqIPQr3
Happy to see #TeamIndia continue its winning streak at #Tokyo2020 #Paralympics. Congratulations to our TN star @189thangavelu who won his 2nd consecutive Paralympics medal in #HighJump, @sharad_kumar01, and #SinghrajAdhana for their #Bronze in #HighJump & #Shooting respectively. pic.twitter.com/8tcWRoWnpO— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) August 31, 2021
Just as at Rio 2016, #IND have 2️⃣ athletes in the podium places in Men's High Jump T63 Final! 🔥🔥— #Tokyo2020 for India (@Tokyo2020hi) August 31, 2021
Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar have won #silver and #bronze medals respectively, taking 🇮🇳's medal tally into double figures! 😍#Tokyo2020 #Paralympics #ParaAthletics pic.twitter.com/HSadcK8Nnt