Mariyappan Thangavelu

There was double joy for India at the Rio Paralympics on Saturday as high jumpers Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati won gold and bronze.

Thangavelu scripted history, becoming the first Indian para-athlete to win a gold medal in the men’s high jump-T42, on Day 2 of the Games at the Olympic Stadium, in Rio de Janeiro.

Mariyappan Thangavelu

IMAGE: India’s Mariyappan Thangavelu celebrates with his gold medal in the men’s high jump-T42 on Day 2 of the Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

The 21-year-old, who hails from Salem district in Tamil Nadu, finished with a best leap of 1.89 metres in the final, while Bhati produced a personal best of 1.86 metres to win the bronze medal, behind Sam Grewe of the United States, who also registered the same mark.

Sharad Kumar, India’s other medal prospect who was leading at one stage, failed to sustain his momentum and finished sixth.

Thangavelu’s gold is India’s third in Paralympics history.

IMAGE: India’s Mariyappan Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati celebrate after finishing first and third respectively in the men’s high jump-T42 final on Day 2 of the Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

Earlier, swimmer Murlikant Petkar won gold in the 1972 Games and javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia won gold in Athens 2004.

India, which sent its largest-ever delegation of 19 for a Paralympic Games, has two medals – gold and bronze.

[source;rediff.com]