Mariyapan Thangavelu Wins Silver in Men’s High Jump T42; Bronze for Sharad Kumar

India’s Mariyapan Thangavelu claimed his second Paralympic medal, claiming silver in the Men’s High Jump T42 with a jump of 1.86m, while Sharad Kumar won bronze clearing 1.83m. USA’s Sam Grewe, the world record holder won gold with a clearance of 1.88m. With this India’s medal tally rose to ten.

Thangavelu was in the gold medal position till Grewe’s last jump. Both competitor’s had failed to clear 1.88m in their first two attempts and with the Indian’s unsuccessful third jump, it was down to Grewe’s and he produced the good when it mattered the most. Meanwhile, Sharad, who had finished sixth at the Rio Paralympic Games, secured bronze with a season-best effort.

Sharad started with a height of 1.73m and cleared it in his first attempt and moved past 1.77m, 1.80m also in his first attempt, setting a personal best in the process. Rio gold medallist Thangavelu also started well and notched up his season-best of 1.80m without failing a single attempt. He went on to clear 1.83m and 1.86m without much trouble, but could not go past 1.88m. The third Indian in the fray, Varun Shing Bhati, took two attempts to clear 1.73 and even though he cleared 1.70m with ease, he could not go past 1.80m. He finished seventh with a best jump of 1.77 and fell out of medal contention early.

26-year-old Thangavelu was the defending champion in Men’s High Jump in T42 from Rio Paralympics games and had finished third in the Para World Championship in in Dubai in 2019. In 2017 he was presented with the Padma Shri Award, India’s fourth highest national civilian honour and in 2020 he was presented with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour in India. His leg was crushed by a vehicle when he was on his way to school.

Sharad Kumar, 29, had comes sixth in Rio in 2016 in the Men;s T42 High jump but went on to bag two silver medals in the 2017 and 2019 World Championships with jumps of 1.83m and 1.84m. He is also the reigning Assian Para Games champion in Men’s High Jump T42/63 clearing a jump of 1.90m. A political science student at the Kirori Mal College, New Delhi. His impairment is the result of the effects of polio, diagnosed at age two. The illness caused paralysis in his left leg and took up high jump in 2005 at St. Paul’s School in Darjeeling, India.

“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 [school] I started training myself to be part of the national Paralympic team in Delhi,” he had said in an interview in 2014.

Varun Bhati, 26, had finished third winning bronze at the Rio Games in Men’s High Jump T42 classification. He took up high jump in 2010 at the St. Joseph Senior Secondary School in India. The impairment to his left leg is a result of the effects of polio. In 2017 he was honoured with the Arjuna Award by the Government of India.

“His sports teacher Manish Tripathi, who initially encouraged him to play basketball, realised his potential in high jump and started training him.”It was easy for me to make the transition to high jump. You need a good vertical jump to compete in basketball. I feel that I was born to compete in the sport of high jump. I love jumping,” Varun had revealed.

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