A history was written in the Indian sports annals in the wee hours of Saturday morning, September 10, 2016 when two of its athletes – Thangavelu Mariyappan and Varun Singh Bhati scaled new hights winning the gold and bronze medals respectively in the Men’s T-42 High Jump event at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. It was the first instance when two athletes won a medal each in the same event in the Olympic Games. It was the third gold medal overall for India in the Paralympics Olympic Games’ history after Murlikant Petkar (Swimming, at Heidelberg 1972) and Devendra Jhajharia (Javelin throw, Athens 2004). India’s overall medal tally in all Paralympic Olympic Games now stands at 10 – three golds, three silvers and four bronze. HN Girisha won a High-jump silver medal, at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Mariyappan jumped 1.89 meters for his phenomenal success while Bhati recorded his personal best of 1.86m for the 3rd place finish in T-42 High jump. Silver went to USA’s Sam Greve who also jumped 1.86m. Varun Singh who suffered from poliomyelitis causing deformity in one leg, picked the bronze. Another Indian entrant in the event, Sharad Kumar finished sixth with 1.77m. T-42 is a disability classification for differently-abled track-and-field athletes with single ‘above the knee’ amputations or a comparable disability
Mariyappan whose right knee was crushed in a bus accident when he was just five year old, emerged winner in a very fierce competition as six of the 12 athletes cleared 1.74m mark in their first eight attempts. In his 10th attempt Mariyappan cleared 1.77m. The two other medallists also made the mark. American Sam Greve then cleared 1.86m and positioned himself well ahead of the field but both the Indians from here came into themselves and equalled the height to make it even.
Eventually Mariyappan managed a jump of 1.89m in his last attempt and grabbed the top honours while Greve and Bhati couldn’t improve upon further and finished with silver and bronze medals respectively.
|… by Arun Arnaw Khare|