From Rio with Love

by Vivek Prasad

India has put up a fantastic show at the Paralympics Games held in Rio, Brazil, with a rich haul of golds, silver and a bronze.

Ever since the names of the 19 Indian athletes to represent the country at the Paralympic Games were revealed, it was always believed the country would have a chance of improving its medal tally. The largest ever contingent in the country’s Paralympic history was expected to do well, and it did.

Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati secured India’s two medals in the High Jump category. Thangavelu created history by winning a gold medal in the men’s high jump T-42 event, with a leap of 1.89 metres, thereby catapulting his native, Periyavadagampatti village, in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district on the world map.

Varun Singh Bhati, who jumped a personal best of 1.86 metres to clinch bronze in the men’s high jump T-42 event, faced a lot of hardships before achieving the historic feat. The 21-year-old, who trains at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru, is suffering from a T-42 disability. This is a disability classification in the sport for differently-abled track-and-field athletes with single “above the knee” amputations or a comparable disability.

With Thangavelu and Bhati securing a podium finish, the India camp got a booster shot and believed of performing better than ever before at the Paralympics. A historic silver medal ensured Deepa Malik scripted history, winning second place in the women’s shotput F53 event at the Rio Paralympics, with a personal best of 4.61m.

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