It is not long back when India was made proud by its Para Athletes at the Olympics. With two gold medals, one silver, and one bronze medal, Paralympic Games 2016 witnessed some staggering performances by Indian Para-athletes. Among these were, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Deepa Malik, Varun Singh Bhati, Devendra Jhajharia. Here is a quick recap of these Unsung Heroes:
Mariyappan Thangavelu won a gold medal for India in the T42 High Jump at the Paralympics. He did this by defeating world champion Sam Grewe from the USA. Mariyappan comes from a village named Periyavadagampatti situated 50 km from Salem in Tamil Nadu. The athlete had met with a road accident at the age of five when a speeding bus crushed his right leg below the knee leaving him disabled. But Mariyappan, facing all odds proved that he is abled and abled in every way a normal man is. What made his feat even greater was his decision to donate 30 lakh rupees from the prize money he got to the Government school where he studied.
Deepa Malik won a silver medal in the shot-put F53 event. She set a new record as she became the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Paralympics. She comes from Gurugram near Delhi. She was paralyzed in 1999. She has won the Arjuna Award in 2012. She also rode a quad bike across nine high altitude passes in nine days through Ladakh, becoming the first paraplegic woman to do so. she has also swam upstream one kilometer in Yamuna river.
Varun Singh Bhati
22-year-old, Varun Singh Bhati won a bronze medal in high jump T-24 event at Rio. He comes from Jamalpur village in Greater Noida. Varun’s cause of disability is a polio attack which caused problems in his left leg.
Devendra Jhajharia won a gold medal in the Javelin throw and became the first Indian to win two gold medals at the Paralympics. He hails from Rajasthan. He lost his left hand when he was electrocuted at the age of eight. The javelin thrower was awarded Arjuna Award in 2004 and also with Padma Shri in 2012 becoming the first Paralympic athlete to receive this award. He had earlier won a gold in 2004 Athens Paralympic games.
2016 was a great year for Indian Para Athletes. They made us real proud and sparkled new hope and inspirations for those who are ready to step up and fill in their shoes. Paralympics 2018 will have these veteran stars in the spotlight.