Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar bag medals at Tokyo Paralympics despite rain and pain

Indian high jumpers Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar have made country proud by bagging the silver and bronze medals, respectively, in the men’s high jump T42 event on 31-August-2021.

While Mariyappan cleared 1.86m to win a silver, Sharad took the bronze with an effort of 1.83m. American athlete Sam Grewe succeeded in winning the gold after soaring above 1.88m in his third attempt.

Mariyappan who won gold in Rio Paralympics said “I could have won gold and claimed the world record. I came here with that aim. But the rain played spoilsport. It was a drizzle initially but after the 1.80m mark, it became heavy. The sock on my other leg (the impaired right leg) got wet and it was difficult to jump,” after the event. “In Rio, the weather was great and I won gold. I will try for gold and the world record in Paris 2024,” he added.

Mariyappan was also chosen as India’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony. However, the star athelete was replaced at the last minute after being identified as a close contact of a Covid positive person on his flight. He was also made to isolate and train separately. “It was an upsetting moment for me. But I somehow wanted to win a medal for India,” he said.

Sharad Kumar too faced many challenges to register his win. The athlete had injured his meniscus the day before the event and wasn’t sure if he would be fit enough to jump in the first place. Talking about the difficulties he said, “I was in a lot of pain. I had to manage the pain, and the rain. It was one crazy ride.”

“I cried the whole of last night. I had lost all hope of competing. But I I just said to myself, ‘whatever has to happen in life will happen. I have no control over it’. And that’s how I entered the track today,” he added.

Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar are an inspiration for all those people who want to give up whenever they face difficulties in life.


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