After winning the Gold at the Paralympics 2016, Mariappan Thangavelu, expressed his desire to construct a house of their own to gift his mother, who has been selling vegetables to earn a living for the family. The bronze medalist Varun Singh Bhati also expressed his happiness on his performance.
After India failed to achieve more than two medals at the Rio Olympics last month, two disabled athletes showed their mettle at the ongoing Paralympics by winning individual Gold and Bronze in men’s high jump. They vaulted their way to the glory in the event, and It was the first instance that two Indians stood on the same Olympic podium.
Speaking to The Hindu, Thangavelu expressed his happiness about his performance.
He said, “I’m just very happy. I expected to win a medal. I just stayed calm and did my best.”
After losing his one leg in an accident in his childhood, Thangavelu took the disability as a challenge and trained hard to be a successful sportsman. He gave credits to her mother, who is selling vegetables to earn a living. Thangavelu wants to make a house for them now.
He said, “I spoke to my mother last night. She said I would definitely win the gold. My first priority is to help her. I want to construct a house of our own.”
Mariappan’s coach Satyanarayana said that he wasn’t surprised with the performance at all.
He said to The Hindu, “He was the top-ranked jumper in the world, so I was not surprised by his performance. But recording your best jump in a major competition is not easy. He beat the reigning World Champion (Sam Grewe).”
The Salem SDAT coach, K. Elamparithi, who fine-tuned the gold medalist Mariappan, said, “Actually, his personal best is 1.91m. Ever since he did that in the training, I was confident he would clinch the gold at the Paralympics.”
He also added, “He had trained both morning and evening for months together for this special day. He did not enjoy any great facilities as many athletes do but had the fire in his belly to make it big,”
Varun Singh Bhati, who missed out on a silver medal by a whisker, expressed his happiness over his own performance. The son of a Sarpanch in a Gram Panchayat, Bhati said, “I feel normal; I don’t feel so great. I wish the colour of the medal was different. I was happy with my
Bhati also praised the Rio crowd who pumped them up in each step.
The bronze medalist said, “They were so loud. They cheered us every step of the way. It made me very happy. I hope what Mariappan and I have done inspires other high-jumpers in India.”
While the country celebrated the medals of Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu, these guys, who despite their physical disability made India proud, deserve more than a meagre mention.