Mariyappan Thangavelu has, truly, lived up to his name. Thangam, which is part of his name, means gold in Tamil. And, Mariyappan, with his Paralympic win realized India’s wish for gold in Rio.
Hailing from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and with a humble background, he had to overcome several obstacles to reach this height. Thangavelu and Varun Bhati made history and India proud as they clinched gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the men’s T42 High Jump event on day two of the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, on Friday.
Thangavelu bagged gold thanks to his best jump of 1.89 meters while Bhati posted a best mark of 1.86m. USA’s Sam Grewe bagged the silver medal.
Thangavelu lost a leg when he was five. He was playing in front of his house when a bus run over his legs. The family is still fighting the case in court.
India, which aimed for a double-digit haul in Rio, had to be content with a silver and bronze in Olympics. But Thangavelu and Bhati have now given India its rightful moment to cheer with their historic wins. Thangavelu is the first to win a gold in this category.