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Mariyappan Thangavelu

Mariyappan Thangavelu (born 28 June 1995) is an Indian Paralympic high jumper. He represented India in the 2016 Summer Paralympic games held in Rio de Janeiro in the men's high jump T-42 category, winning the gold medal in the finals. He is India's first Paralympian gold medallist since 2004. On 25 January 2017, Government of India announced "Padma Shri" award for his contribution towards sports and in the same year he was also awarded Arjuna Award. Early life Mariyappan was born in Periavadagampatti village, Salem district, Tamil Nadu, one of six children (four brothers and a sister). His father reportedly abandoned the family early on, and his mother, Saroja, raised her children as a single mother, carrying bricks as a labourer until becoming a vegetable seller, earning 100 (US$1.40) a day. At the age of five, Mariyappan suffered permanent disability in his right leg when he was run over by a drunk 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." Athletic career Mariyappan enjoyed playing volleyball as a student; subsequently, his school physical education instructor encouraged him to try high jumping. In his first competitive event, aged 14, he placed second among a field of able-bodied competitors, after which he received strong encouragement from his classmates and others in Salem district. In 2013, his current coach Satyanarayana, supported by the Sports academy of India for differently-abled, first noticed his performance at the Indian national para-athletics championships, and formally took him on as a student in 2015, bringing him to Bengaluru for further coaching. In March 2016, Mariyappan cleared a distance of 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) in the men's high jump T–42 event at the IPC Grand Prix in Tunisia, qualifying him for the Rio Paralympics. At the Rio Paralympics.


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