What a night for India at Rio Paralympics!
Mariyappan Thangavelu, 21-year-old from Tamil Nadu, and Varun Singh Bhati, 20-year-old from Uttar Pradesh, created history by winning the gold and bronze respectively in the high jump T42 category at Rio 2016 Paralympics.
Varun and Thangavelu set the pace throughout the event, but when the top three were stalling at 1.86m, Thangavelu stepped up brilliantly to clear 1.89m and win India's first gold at the games in Rio de Janeiro.
THANGAVELU, YOU BEAUTY! He clears 1.89m & wins gold!September 9, 2016
India's third contestant, Sharad Kumar, finished 6th with a best jump of 1.77m.
Thangavelu was five when in accident in his village in Salem (Tamil Nadu), a bus swerved off the road and ran over his right leg, crushing it below the knee.
His leg crushed by a bus when he was 5.AtAt 21, he wins GOLD at #Paralympics!Mariyappan Thangavelu, you're a hero! pic.twitter.com/3aX1hvyXwY— ScoopWhoop News (@scoopwhoopnews) September 9, 2016
“I was told the driver was inebriated,” he had told the Hindu in March this year. “It doesn’t matter. My right leg is now stunted — it is still a five-year-old’s leg; it has never grown or healed.”
“It is not beyond me. Even a gold is possible,” he had said. And he lived up to his word!
He now joins the elite company of five athletes who have won gold for India at the biggest sporting stage.
India's individual gold medallists:September 9, 2016
20-year-old Varun, who has deformity in one leg due to Poliomyelitis, hails from a middle class family (father works at a car showroom, mother is a house-wife). Afflicted by polio as a kid, Varun took to sport in his school days, and has been consistently getting better -- and his crowning glory came at Rio 2016!
The T42 high jump - the category which has athletes with a specific disability below the waist which has affected the functioning of one leg - was seen as one of India's assured medal event, given the three particpants were the top three in the world. This was the first time that India headed into a multi-sport event with the top three being from the country.
And at the end of the event, the nation has two medals!