India’s Mariyappan Thangavelu created history on Saturday morning by winning a gold medal in the men’s high jump T-42 event at the Rio Paralympics. His compatriot Varun Singh Bhati clinched the bronze medal in the same event.
While Thangavelu made a leap of 1.89 metres, Bhati jumped his personal best of 1.86 metres to finish third. India’s other medal prospect Sharad Kumar finished at sixth. US’s Sam Grewe bagged the silver medal.
It was heartbreak for Kumar, who led the pack at one stage after clearing hurdles of 1.55m and 1.60m. His best jump, though, was only 1.77m.
The event witnessed huge competition as six out of the 12 para-athletes cleared the 1.74m mark in their first eight attempts.
In his 10th attempt, Thangavelu jumped 1.77m successfully, along with three others - Poland’s Lukasz Mamczarz, China’s Zhiqiang Zhing and countrymate Kumar.
In the later stages with the contest being reduced to only three competitors, Bhati set the tone with a jump of 1.83m mark along with Thagavelu.
However, just when it looked like India would fetch a gold and a silver, the American cleared 1.86m to grab the top spot but the Indians also equalled the height to make it even.
Eventually, in a nail-biting finale, Thangavelu grabbed the top honours by finishing with a jump of 1.89m.
In an interview with The Hindu in March, 2016, Thangavelu believed he had good shot at the Rio Paralympics and said, "Even a gold is possible." Today, he made it.