One of India’s medal hopefuls at the Tokyo Paralympics, Mariyappan Thangavelu has not disappointed his followers. The high jumper clinched the silver medal in the T64 event finals. Thangavelu comfortably cleared the bar until it was set at a height of 1.88m.
The Indian failed to clear the 1.88m in three attempts whereas United States of America’s Sam Grewe cleared the range in his third attempt and bagged the gold medal. Thangavelu settled for silver but was visibly disappointed. He had hopes of winning consecutive gold medals after he clinched gold at the Rio Paralympics in 2016. Thangavelu after his event claimed that he could have won the gold medal if the conditions were better.
“At the start, the rain was just a drizzle so it was not that difficult, we were doing alright but once it got past 1.80m and the higher jumps, the rain got worse and the conditions were difficult. Especially, the conditions were getting worse for me as my socks got wet, and that made the point of takeoff difficult. That is why I had difficulties at the higher jumps,” said Thangavelu during a virtual press conference organised by Eurosport.
“If the conditions were better, I would have cleared the 1.90m mark,” he said.
The Tamil Nadu based para-athlete also came in contact with a COVID-19 contracted person on his plane to Tokyo. So he missed out on being the flag bearer for the country at the Paralympics opening ceremony. Speaking about the big opportunity missed, the 26-year-old said, “Missing out on being the flag-bearer because of a close COVID-19 contact was upsetting but I wanted to win the medal for the country. I trained separately because of isolation rules in the lead-up to the event.”
The T63 High Jump event saw three Indian para-athletes perform. While Mariyappan Thangavelu finished with the Silver medal, Sharad Kumar ended up with the Bronze medal. Meanwhile, Rio Paralympics bronze medallist Varun Singh Bhati missed out in Tokyo as he finished seventh in the standings.
The two medals at the T63 High Jump event meant that India’s medal tally has reached double digits. With two gold medals won by Avani Lekhara and Sumit Antil, India have added five silver medals and 3 bronze medals till now. Hopefully, the Indian athletes will continue their dream run as they look to return home with a record medal haul from Tokyo.