Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaaon Saturday announced a cash reward of Rs two crore for Rio Paralympic Gold medallist Mariyappan Thangavelu.
Thangavelu scripted history at the ongoing Rio Paralympics, becoming the first Indian para-athlete to bag a gold medal in the men’s high jump-T42 finals on day two of the prestigious tournament at the Olympic Stadium.
“I was delighted to learn that you have won a Gold Medal in the Paralympics currently being held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I understand that this is the first time an Indian has won a gold medal in the High Jump event in the Paralympics. By leaping over a height of 1.89 metres, you have leapt into history and done both the Nation and the State of Tamil Naduproud,” Jayalalithaa wrote in her letter.
“Your achievement, overcoming several obstacles and hurdles, will inspire more and more children and youth to overcome adversities and to participate and strive for greater achievements. Kindly accept my heartiest congratulations on behalf of the people of Tamil Nadu on your splendid achievement,” she added.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister further said that she was very happy to inform that the state government has decided to award a cash prize of Rs two crores on par with Olympic Gold Medal winners from Tamil Nadu.
“I congratulate you and all those who have contributed to your success. May you stand forth as a beacon of hope for all those striving to achieve success in their chosen fields overcoming all odds,” she said.
The 21-year-old, hailing from Salem district in Tamil Nadu, grabbed the top honours with a best leap of 1.89 metres, while compatriot Varun Singh Bhati produced his personal best mark of 1.86 metres to win the bronze medal behind American Sam Grewe, who also registered the same mark.
Thangavelu’s gold is only India’s third in Paralympics history. Earlier, swimmer Murlikant Petkar won gold in the 1972 Games and Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia had won gold in Athens 2004.
A bus accident at the age of five left Mariyappan with a permanent disability but he has defied all odds, coupled by the added burden of poverty, with his sensational feat in Rio.
India, which has send its largest-ever delegation of 19 for a Paralympic Games, currently has two medals – gold and bronze.