It has been quite a journey for Thangavelu Mariyappan, from suffering a major bus accident which crushed his right leg leaving him handicap forever to winning gold at the Rio Paralympics. He wanted to be a volleyball player. But then over time, he took to athletics and also beat many athletes who were able-bodied.
Despite this setback at a tender age of five, he bravely faced the challenges thrown at him head-on and shifted all his focus on high jump when his talent was spotted by school physical education instructor who encouraged him to take the sport seriously. At the age of 14, in his first competitive event among a bunch of able-bodied he came second, from then on there was no looking back.
He received encouragement from his school and coaches like Mr.Satyanarayana who first noticed his performance at the National para-athletics championships and was instrumental in bringing him to Bangalore for further coaching through the backing of the Sports academy of India for differently-abled.
Mariyappan looked in good touch clearing a distance of 1.78 m in the men’s high jump T–42 event at the IPC Grand Prix in Tunisia in March 2016, leading him to qualify for the Rio Paralympics
Thangavelu Mariyappan became an overnight star by creating history at the Rio Paralympics by winning the gold medal in the men’s high jump T–42 event, with a leap of 1.89 m (6 ft 2 in).
Thangavelu Mariyappan has be awarded the PadmaShri by the then President Pranab Mukherjee for his sensational journey from being a disabled kid to becoming an inspirational figure to a whole generations of youngsters.