Mariyappan Thangavelu: 2 times PARALYMPIAN MEDALIST

Mariyappan Thangavelu is an Indian Paralympic High Jumper. He represented India in the 2016 Summer Paralympics games held in Rio de Janerio in the men’s high jump T-42 category and the 2020 Summer Paralympics games held in Tokyo in the men’s high jump T-63 category, winning the gold medal and silver medal respectively in the finals. He is India’s first paralympian gold medalist since 2004. On 25 January 2017, Government of India conferred him with Padma Shri award for his contribution towards sports and in the same year he was also awarded Arjuna Award. He was awarded with Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna in the year 2020 by Government of India.

Mariyappan Thangavelu has been in quarantine in the Games Village as per Japanese government health protocols after having come in close contact with a COVID-POSITIVE fellow passenger during his flight to Tokyo. However, the 26 year old from Salem district of Tamil Nadu has been tested for six days and has returned negative reports. The Tokyo Paralympics organizing committee advised Indian officials to take Mariyappan Thangavelu off from the opening ceremony as a precautionary measure.

TOKYO PARALYMPICS

Mariyappan Thangavelu was born on 28 June 1995 (age 26) in Perivadagampatti village, Salem district, Tamil Nadu, one of the six children (four brothers and a sister). His father reportedly abandoned the family early on, and his mother, Saroj, raised her children as a single mother, carrying bricks as a labor until becoming a vegetable seller, earning rupees 100 (US$1.40) a day. At the age of 5, Mariyappan suffered permanent disability in his right leg when he was run over by a drunken bus driver while walking to school; the bus crushed his leg below the knee, causing it to become stunted. Despite this setback, he completed secondary schooling; he says he “didn’t see myself as different from able-bodied kids.”

The Tokyo Paralympics organizing committee advised Indian officials to take Mariyappan Thangavelu off from the opening ceremony as a precautionary measure. Mariyappan Thangavelu has been replaced by shot putter Tek Chand as India’s flagbearer for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics opening ceremony. Six officials and para athletes from India were expected to take part in the opening ceremony. Now only nine members of the contingent, of which only Tek Chand is a para shot, will attend the ceremony.

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