You must be familiar with the story of Mariyappan Thangavelu, the 21-year-old from a small village in Salem, Tamil Nadu, who struck gold at the Rio Paralympics. With a majestic 1.89m leap, Mariyappan made sure the Indian national anthem was heard in Rio de Janeiro.
While that in itself is a tremendous achievement, Mariyappan's story from the tiny hamlet in Salem to the top of the podium in Rio is nothing short of fantastic. At 5, he was run over a swerving bus that crushed his feet. At 10, his father abandoned his family. His mom, a vegetable vendor, has been taking care of her son -- including repaying a massive loan of Rs. 3 lakhs that she had to take for his treatment.
But on Monday, Mariyappan showed what generosity truly is. In a gesture that will give you goosebumps, the 21-year-old gold medallist will donate a huge chunk of his reward money towards the betterment of his government school.
#RioParalympics gold-medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu donates Rs 30 lakh from the prize money to his govt school.— ANI (@ANI_news) September 12, 2016
According to a report, Mariyappan wants the sports facilities at the Government High School in his village Periyavadagambatti in Salem to improve. The village is also readying itself for a grand welcome to the champ, the headmaster of the school told Samayam.
It is, after all, at his school that his life changed when his Physical Education instructor asked him to choose high jump over volleyball and encouraged him to compete with able-bodied athletes.
As far as rewards go, Mariyappan will get Rs 75 lakh from the Sports Ministry, at par with Olympians. The TN state government had also announced a Rs 2 crore reward.
But with the gesture, Mariyappan has showed it's not just about the rewards. It's also about giving back.
Forgive the cliche, but Mariyappan has showed he truly has a heart of gold. We salute you, champ!
Watch the video of his jump here: