Mariyappan, Sharad do India proud with leap of faith

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Mariyappan Thangavelu won silver in Men's High Jump with a season-best show of 1.86m at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Mariyappan Thangavelu won silver in Men's High Jump with a season-best show of 1.86m at the Tokyo Paralympics.

High jumpers Mariyappan Thangavelu got silver while Sharad Kumar secured bronze in the Men’s High Jump T42 event final to give India two more medals at the Tokyo Paralympics.

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Mariyappan had won the T42 gold at the 2016 Rio Games. He had cleared 1.89m back then but could not clear the 1.86m mark this time and settled for silver.

Both Sharad and Mariyappan were able to go past 1.73m and 1.77m in their maiden attempts, respectively. The other Indian high jumper, Varun Bhati, failed to go past the 1.80m mark. He ended 7th on the list with a best effort of 1.77m.

Sharad Kumar's brother inspired him to take to High Jump at St Paul's School, Darjeeling.
Sharad Kumar’s brother inspired him to take to High Jump at St Paul’s School, Darjeeling.

Sharad securing the third place with a 1.83m effort, which is his season-best effort. Mariyappan’s 1.86m jump was his season-best performance as well. American Sam Grewe bagged the top spot with a 1.88m effort in his third attempt.

Hailing from Salem district in Tamil Nadu, Mariyappan suffered permanent disability at five after his right leg got crushed under a bus, below his knee. For a long time, he worked as a newspaper hawker to provide for his family and sustain his sporting dreams when he was trying to start his career.

Last year, the 25-year-old was conferred the Khel Ratna, India’s highest sporting award.

Born March 1, 1992, Sharad was diagnosed with polio at two and it led to paralysis in the left leg. He took to High Jump in 2005 at St. Paul’s School in Darjeeling. His brother was his biggest inspiration.

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“My brother motivated me to be a high jumper. I broke all his records at school and it gave me the confidence to take the sport seriously. After St. Paul’s, I started training myself to be part of the national Paralympic team in Delhi”, said Sharad.

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