Thangavelu wins historic gold at Paralympics in Rio

FILE | Rio de Janeiro: The Rio 2016 Olympics mascots parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Photo: AP/PTI

FILE | Rio de Janeiro: The Rio 2016 Olympics mascots parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.
Photo: AP/PTI

India made an impressive start to its campaign at the Paralympic Games with Mariyappan Thangavelu creating history by bagging the gold while Varun Bhati won the bronze medal in the men’s T42 high jump on the second day of the mega-event, here.

But it was disappointment for another Indian athlete Sharad Kumar who failed to finish on the podium.

Prime Minister Narendra sent congratulatory messages Mariyappan Thangavelu bronze winner Varun Bhati.

“India is elated! Congratulations to Mariyappan Thangavelu on winning gold & Varun Singh Bhati for the bronze at the #Paralympics,” PM Modi tweeted for the duo.

Under the Sports Ministry’s Cash Award Scheme, Mariyappan will get Rs 75 lakh and Bhati will be presented Rs 30 lakh for their feat. The prize money is at par with the medal winners from last month’s Olympic Games as was announced by the Ministry before the Games.

Thangavelu won the yellow metal with his best jump of 1.89 metres, while Bhati’s best effort of 1.86m fetched him the bronze.

The silver medal in this event went to USA’s Sam Grewe who also registered the same mark of 1.86 metres.

But it was heartbreak for Kumar, who led the pack at one stage after clearing hurdles of 1.55m and 1.60m. His best jump, though, was only 1.77m which placed him at the sixth position.

File photo of Mariyappan Thangavelu. Photo-PTI

File photo of Mariyappan Thangavelu.
Photo-PTI

The event witnessed huge competition as six out of the 12 para athletes cleared the 1.74m mark in their first eight attempts.

In his 10th attempt, Thangavelu jumped 1.77m successfully, along with three others Poland’s Lukasz Mamczarz, China’s Zhiqiang Zhing and countrymate Kumar.

In the later stages with the contest being reduced to only three competitors, Bhati set the tone with a jump of 1.83m mark along with Thagavelu.

However, just when it looked like India would fetch a gold and a silver, the American cleared 1.86m to grab the top spot but the Indians also equalled the height to make it even.

Eventually, in a nail biting finale, Thangavelu grabbed the top honours by finishing with a jump of 1.89m