Left, Thangavelu Mariyappan, who became only the third Indian ever to clinch a gold medal in the Paralympics. Mariyappan, who was five when his right leg was crushed by a speeding bus, joined Murlikant Petkar (1972, swimming) and Devendra Jhajharia (2004 and 2016, javelin throw) in the Indian Paralympics gold club. Mariyappan won the yellow metal in the T-42 High Jump event with a best effort of 1.89m, leaving behind world champion Sam Grewe of the US who registered 1.86m. The T-42 classification is for athletes with lower limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power or impaired range of movement. Varun Singh Bhati, below, right, from India took the bronze in the same category.
India’s Deepa Malik created history by becoming the first-ever woman from the country to win a medal at the Paralympics when she bagged a silver in the shotput F-53 event in Rio de Janeiro. Deepa’s best throw of 4.61m from her six attempts was enough to clinch the silver medal. Deepa, a mother of two and wife of an Indian Army officer, became a paraplegic when a spinal tumour made walking impossible for her 17 years ago. The spinal tumour had to be operated and 31 surgeries were conducted on Deepa. ‘I dared to dream and I have determination to work hard and the passion and perseverance to follow that dream. Women often lose that and I have ensured that my family is not neglect- ed, my children are doing well too,’ she said after the win. Besides the shotput, Deepa has participated in the javelin throw, swimming and has also been a motivational speaker. She has also won medals in swimming at international competitions. She holds the Asian record in the javelin throw, and also has World Championships silver medals in the shot put and discus in 2011. In 2009, Deepa was the first person with paraplegia to ride in one of the world’s highest and most difficult motor rallies in the Himalayas.
Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia became the first Indian to clinch two gold medals at the Paralympics after he broke his own world record in the men’s F46 event to clinch the top honours in Rio de Janeiro. Devendra had won his previous gold in the 2004 Athens Games. The Rajasthan-born athlete lost his left hand when he was electrocuted while climbing a tree as an eight year old. He went on to win the Arjuna Award in 2004 and the Padma Shri in 2012, becoming the first Paralympian to receive the honor. After his win, Jhajaria revealed that his daughter Jiya had struck a deal with her father that if she topped her lower kindergarten exam, he would have to win a gold: ‘She proudly phoned me to announce that “I’ve topped, now it’s your turn,” something that kept on echoing in my ear when I entered the field at the Olympic Stadium.’ INDIAÊS PARALYMPICS STARS
PHOTOGRAPHS: RICARDO MORAES/REU TERS
COUR TESY: FACEBOOK. COM/DEEPA MALIK
September 23, 2016