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Mariyappan Thangavelu

Mariyappan Thangavelu
Mariyappan at the 2016 Summer Paralympics
Personal information
Full nameMariyappan Thangavelu
Born (1995-06-28) 28 June 1995 (age 28)
Periavadagampatti, Salem district, Tamil Nadu, India
Country India
EventHigh Jump - T42 &T63
Achievements and titles
Paralympic finals2016 Summer Paralympics: High Jump (T42) – Gold & 2020, 2024 Summer Paralympics: High Jump (T63) – Silver
Medal record
Representing  India
Men's athletics
Paralympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2016 Rio High Jump T42
Silver medal – second place 2020 Tokyo High Jump T63
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2024 Kobe High jump T63
Asian Para Games
Silver medal – second place 2022 Hangzhou High jump T63

Mariyappan Thangavelu (born 28 June 1995)[1] is an Indian Paralympic high jumper. He represented India in the 2016 Summer Paralympics games held in Rio de Janeiro in the men's high jump T-42 category and the 2020 Summer Paralympic games held in Tokyo in the men's high jump T-63 category , winning the gold medal and silver medal respectively in the finals.[2][3][4] He is India's first Paralympian gold medalist since 2004.

On 25 January 2017, the Government of India conferred him with the Padma Shri award for his contribution towards sports[5] and in the same year, he was also awarded the Arjuna Award.[6] He was awarded with the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna in 2020.

Early life

Mariyappan was born in Periavadagampatti village, Salem district, Tamil Nadu, one of six children (four brothers and a sister). His father reportedly abandoned the family early on and his mother, Saroja, raised her children as a single mother, carrying bricks as a labourer until becoming a vegetable seller, earning 100 (US$1.30) a day.[3] At the age of five, Mariyappan suffered permanent disability in his right leg when he was run over by a drunk bus driver while walking to school. The bus crushed his leg below the knee, causing it to become stunted.[7] Despite this setback, he completed secondary schooling. He says that he didn't see himself as different from able-bodied kids.[3]

Athletic career

Mariyappan enjoyed playing volleyball as a student; subsequently, his school physical education instructor encouraged him to try high jumping.[8] In his first competitive event, aged 14, he placed second among a field of able-bodied competitors, after which he received strong encouragement from his classmates and others in Salem district. In 2013, his current coach Satyanarayana, supported by the Sports Academy of India for the Differently-Abled, first noticed his performance at the Indian national para-athletics championships, and formally took him on as a student in 2015, bringing him to Bengaluru for further coaching.[7]

In March 2016, Mariyappan cleared a distance of 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in) in the men's T-42 high jump event at the IPC Grand Prix in Tunisia, qualifying him for the 2016 Summer Paralympics.[7] In Rio, he won the gold medal, again in the T-42 category, with a jump of 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in).[9]

In November 2019, he cleared a distance of 1.80 m (5 ft 11 in) min the Men's T-63 high jump event at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships in Dubai to win the bronze medal, behind fellow Indian Sharad Kumar.[10]

In August 2021, he won the silver medal in men's T-63 high jump event at the 2020 Summer Paralympics, which was the second medal in his Paralympic career.

Awards and recognition

Personal life

Mariyappan has an elder sister Sudha and two younger brothers Kumar and Gopi.[9] In 2015, he completed a bachelor's degree in business administration.[9]

Following his Paralympic triumph, Mariyappan used some of his prize money to buy his mother a paddy field, so his family could enjoy a more stable source of income, and also used his winnings to build a better house for his family,[20] depositing the remaining sums in an account. In August 2017, Mariyappan said that while it was "a good feeling" to be recognised and to have his neighbours treat him with great respect, he felt "a slight sadness" that even his friends now treated him with increased formality, which irritated him. In a separate interview that month, he said that though he remained committed to an athletic career, he had been living off his prize money, and was in desperate need of a steady job to support his family. He said he had requested help from the Tamil Nadu government, but had not received a reply.[12]

In October 2018, he was named as the flag bearer for the 2018 Asian Para Games held in Jakarta that month.[21] On 7 December, he was offered a Group A post as a coach with the Sports Authority of India.[22]

A petition to implead T Mariappan, recipient of gold medal in Para-Olympics competitions held recently, in a youth’s death case, has been filed in the Madras High Court. According to the petitioner, her son Sathish Kumar (19) faced the wrath of Mariappan for dashing his two-wheeler against the latter’s new Mahindra car on 3 June last. He was beaten up by Mariappan and his friends Sabari and Yuvaraj. When they snatched his mobile phone, Sathish Kumar ran behind them to get it back. Since then he was missing. However, he was found dead near the railway track the next day. She lodged a complaint with local police on the death of her son and also sought protection. As there was no effective action, she filed the present.[23]


  1. ^ C., Aprameya (10 September 2016). "Rio Paralympics: Who is history-maker Mariyappan Thangavelu?". Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Paralympics 2016 | Mariyappan Thangavelu wins India's first gold in Rio". Sportscafe. 10 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Stalin, J. Sam Daniel (10 September 2016). "Paralympian Mariyappan Thangavelu's Golden Leap From Poverty". NDTV Sports. Archived from the original on 10 September 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  4. ^ "Mariyappan Thangavelu wins high jump silver at Tokyo Paralympics". 31 August 2021.
  5. ^ "PadmaAwards-2017" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 January 2017.
  6. ^ "National Sports Awards: Centre unveils list, cricket sensation Harmanpreet Kaur to receive Arjuna Award". Financial Express. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Chidananda, Shreedutta (20 May 2016). "It's not beyond me, even gold is possible: Mariyappan". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Mariyappan Thangavelu: 10 things you need to know about India's Paralympic Games gold medalist". 10 September 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  9. ^ a b c "Indians bag gold, bronze in men's high jump in Paralympics". The Hindu. 10 September 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  10. ^ "Dubai 2019 - Schedule & Results". International Paralympic Committee. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  11. ^ "Ministry of Home Affairs: Padma Awards 2017" (PDF). Retrieved 25 January 2017.[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ a b Periwal, Sunaina Rachel (30 August 2017). "Arjuna Award winner and Paralympic gold medalist Mariyappan Thangavelu desperate for stable job to sustain family". Sportskeeda. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  13. ^ a b "Rio Paralympics: Jayalalithaa announces Rs 2 crore award for gold medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu". The Indian Express. 10 September 2016. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  14. ^ "Bhopal: 1,000 athletes to get annual scholarship of Rs5 lakh each for eight years: Rathore". The Free Press Journal. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Govt announces Rs 90L cash awards in total for Paralympics medal winners". Hindustan Times. 29 September 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  16. ^ "India's Rio 2016 Paralympics medal winners felicitated". The Indian Express. 3 October 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Yash Raj Films to honour Indian Paralympic medal winners". Deccan Herals. 14 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016.
  18. ^ "Delhi Golf club announces Rs 50 lakh in cash awards for Rio Olympics and Paralympics winners". Firstpost Sports. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 1 October 2016.
  19. ^ "NRI businessman announces cash prize for 2016 Rio paralympics heroes". News Nation. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
  20. ^ Ganesan, Uthra. "Mariyappan and Bhati set their sights on higher targets". The Hindu. Retrieved 26 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Mariyappan Thangavelu named India's flag-bearer for Asian Para Games". The Indian Express. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  22. ^ "SAI appoints 11 Olympians and 3 Paralympians as coaches and assistant coaches". The Indian Express. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  23. ^ "Paralympic hero Mariappan accused of murdering youth who collided with his car". The New Indian Express. 12 October 2017. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
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Mariyappan Thangavelu
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