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Thangavelu, who hails from Tamil Nadu, strikes gold at Rio Paralympics


Creates history by becoming the first Tamil to win a gold in high jump event at the Games

Thangavelu, who hails from Tamil Nadu, strikes gold at Rio Paralympics

Twenty-two-year-old Mariyappan Thangavelu, who hails from Tamil Nadu, won the gold medal in the high jump event at the Rio Paralympics. He achieved the feat byleaping over a height of 1.89 metres, making history in the process.

Thangavelu, who hails from a village Periyavadagampatti in Salem district, some 340 km from Chennai, is the son of a vegetable vendor and a casual labour, Saroja. He lost a leg at age five, while playing outside his house after a state-owned bus ran over him.

Even today, his family is fighting a court case against the state-owned transport corporation.

Thangavelu's talent was spotted early on as he went about winning medals at the school and college level, supported and encouraged at every step by his mother. His accomplishments in sport earned him the unofficial title of 'Fighter' by his village.

Thangavelu obtained a degree in Business Administration last year and has been trying to get a regular job, but has not landed one yet.

Last year, coach Satyaranayana from Bangalore took him under his wings and has been since training him for the Para Olympics.

Meanwhile, celebrations began at an early hour on Saturday at his native place after he won the gold medal.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said she was delighted to learn about his victory at the Paralympics currently being held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, adding that he had made both the nation and the state of Tamil Nadu proud.

"The Tamil Nadu government will award you a cash prize of Rs two crore, which is on par with the prize offered to Olympic gold medal winners from the state," she said.

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