The J Jayalalithaa-led Tamil Nadu government on Saturday announced a reward of Rs 2 crore for Rio Paralympics gold medal winner Mariyappan Thangavelu, ANI reported. Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said she was “delighted to learn” that the para-athlete had won the men’s T42 high jump event, held on the second day of the Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro. “I understand that this is the first time an Indian has won a gold medal in the high jump event in the Paralympics,” the state chief minister added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also praised both Thangavelu and bronze medal-winner Varun Bhati for their achievement, saying India was “elated” by their success. While Thangavelu won with a jump of 1.89 m, Bhati tied with silver medallist Sam Grewe of the United States as both registered 1.86 m.
The third Indian in the event, Sharad Kumar, failed to make the cut, finishing sixth overall. Thangavelu’s gold is only India’s third in Paralympics history. Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia, who is part of this year’s Games too, had hurled his way to the top of the podium in Athens 2004.
Winners at both the Paralympics and the Rio Olympics this year have been awarded large cash and other prizes, with Olympic badminton silver medallist PV Sindhu also being awarded Rs 3 crore by the Andhra Pradesh government. Maharashtra Sports Minister Vinod Tawde has called on Olympians such as Sindhu, wrestler Sakshi Malik and gymnast Dipa Karmakar to share their prize money with sports bodies in the country.