Mariyappan Thangavelu became the first Indian to win a gold medal in the T 42 high jump event of the Paralympic games in Rio de Janiero on Saturday. Thangavelu’s medal was joined by a bronze medal won in the same event by Varun Singh Bhati that brought India’s overall medal tally in Rio to two.
Thangavelu’s feat is being lauded all over the country. Politicians, sportsmen and celebrities congragulated the two medallists on social media. Thangavelu and Bhati’s achievment comes on day two of the Rio Paralympics in the T42 high jump event. The T42 is a disability classifications for sports events in which athletes have single above the knee amputations or comparable disability.
The video of Thangavelu’s gold-medal winning jump shows the athlete taking his starting position in the Olypmic Stadium. All eyes were on him as there was no other event happening in the stadium at the time. Thangavelu then takes his run-up and finally, the stadium cheered as he lifted his hands in the air after completing the 1.89 metre-jump.
Thangavelu’s gold medal was followed by USA’s Sam Grewe and the bronze medal went to Varun Singh Bhati, both of whom jumped 1.86 metres. India’s had a third medal prospect in Sharad Kumar. Kumar was leading the pack at one point after clearing hurdles of 1.55m and 1.60m but he could only register a best of 1.77m, which brought him a sixth place finish.
It did look like India would take home both the gold and the silver in the T42 high jump event when Varun Singh Bhati completed his jump. But Sam Grewe stepped up to equal his jump and temporarily top the table. Thangavelu then upstaged then upstaged the American and secured gold.