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Mariyappan Thangavelu Bio, Career Achievements, Parents, Coach and more

Know all about Mariyappan Thangavelu, India's ace para high jumper who is bagged the nation's first Paralympic gold medal in the sport.

Mariyappan Thangavelu
NameMariyappan Thangavelu
Date of Birth28 June 1995
Sport/EventHigh Jump T-42
ResidenceSalem, Tamil Nadu
AchievementsGold medal at Rio Paralympics 2016
Padma Shri awardee (2017)
Arjuna Award awardee (2017)
Bronze medal at Asian Para Games 2028
Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna awardee(2020)

Mariyappan Thangavelu‘s journey to the pinnacle of Indian sports is a tale of sheer perseverance and dedication. From a tender age, Mariyappan had to steer through a myriad of troubles, ranging from the financial troubles of his family to an unfortunate accident that left a deformity in his leg. Little did he know that this was God’s plan of forging a warrior.

At the age of five, a bus being driven by a drunken man hit him on his way to school. The accident left with stalled growth and deformity in his right leg which forced him to walk with crouches for a year. Despite the setbacks, Mariyappan decided to take up volleyball in high school. It was then that his teacher suggested him to take up high jump as the game proved physically strenuous for him.

Mariyappan Thangavelu Bio

Mariyappan Thangavelu

Mariyappan immediately realised that it was his true calling and got to work. He started off competing with able-bodied athletes and came up with amazing performances as he secured podium finishes with ease. It was in 2013 at the National Para-Athletics Championship that his true journey began as she was picked for the National Sports Academy for differently-abled in Bengaluru.

Within just a year and a half of training, he achieved the ranking of World No.1 in 2015. Mariyappan continued to impress one and all en route to the elusive gold medal at the Rio Paralympics. The gold medal changed his life for good as not only his talent got recognition but his long-standing financial troubles finally came to an end.

Mariyappan Thangavelu Career Achievements

Mariyappan Thangavelu

Mariyappan Thangavelu’s greatest achievement is the gold medal at the Rio Games. The medal ended India’s 12-year long wait for a gold medal at the Paralympics, the last being Devendra Jhajharia ‘s gold back in 2004 at the Athens Paralympics. Mariyappan followed it up with a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Para Games.

The ace high jumper’s efforts were equally rewarded by the government as he was conferred the Padma Shri in 2017, the fourth highest Indian national honour. The same year, Mariyappan was bestowed with the Arjuna award, the second-highest Indian sporting honour before he was awarded the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna award, India’s highest sporting honour in 2020.

Mariyappan Thangavelu Parents

Mariyappan Thangavelu with his mother

Mariyappan’s father abandoned the family when he was a child. His mother Saroj raised her four children, including Mariyappan, his younger brothers Kumar and Gopi and an elder sister Sudha, single-handedly. His mother worked as a daily wage labourer bringing home about a hundred rupees every day. As age limited her capacity for physical labour, Saroj switched to selling vegetables to make ends meet.

Mariyappan’s accident forced Saroj to loan a whopping three lakh rupees which came as a huge blow for the already strained financials of the family. It was his mother and siblings’ efforts that enabled Mariyappan to continue his sporting career. In the end, it was his exploits on the field that brought a smile back on his family’s face.

Mariyappan Thangavelu Coach

It was coach Satyanarayana who recognised Mariyappan’s potential at the national championships back in 2013. Satyanarayan’s efforts saw the Rio gold medallist shift base to the National Institute where his journey as an elite athlete kicked. It was Satyanarayana who polished Mariyappan’s raw talent as he guided him through the nuances of the sport.

Also Read: India’s Devendra Jhajharia aiming for his third Paralympics gold