Mariyappan Thangavelu: All you need to know about India's silver-medalist at Tokyo Paralympics

Born in a poor family in Periavadagampatti village in Tamil Nadu, Mariyappan Thangavelu’s rise to the top has been full of hardships and struggles.

Abhinav GoelAuthor

Updated - 31 August 2021 06:41 PM

Mariyappan Thangavelu

India's Mariyappan Thangavelu won a silver medal in the men's high jump T42 event at the Tokyo Paralympics on Tuesday. Defending champion Mariyappan cleared 1.86m while the American gold winner Sam Grewe succeeded in soaring above 1.88m in his third attempt. Mariyappan’s rise to the top has been full of hardships and struggles.

Here's all you need to know about Thangavelu Mariyappan:

Name: Thangavelu Mariyappan

Born on: 28 June 1995

Birth place: Periavadagampatti, Tamil Nadu, India

Hails from: Tamil Nadu

Profession: Para table tennis player

Coach: Satyanarayana

Height: 168 cm

Weight: 60 kg


1.) Gold medal in the 2016 Summer Paralympic games held in Rio de Janeiro

2.) Silver medal in Tokyo Paralympics

3.) India's first Paralympian gold medalist since 2004

4.) Padma Shri awardee

5.) Arjuna awardee

6.)  Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna in the year 2020

Early Life and Career

1.) Born in a poor family in Periavadagampatti village in Tamil Nadu, Mariyappan’s father abandoned the family when Mariyappan was a small kid. His mother, Saroj singlehandedly raised him and his three siblings. His mother used to work as a laborer to make ends meet. Later on, she switched to selling vegetables.

2.) Mariyappan suffered a major accident when he was just 5 years old. He was walking to his school when he was run over by a drunken bus driver. The bus ran over Mariyappan's leg which permanently crushed his leg below the knee. His mother Saroj took a loan of three lakh rupees for Mariyappan’s treatment. Unfortunately, he was left with stunted growth and permanent disability. Mariyappan did not quit and kept playing sports regularly.

3.) Initially, Mariyappan was interested in volleyball, but in seventh grade, he switched to athletics. It was his high school physical education teacher who encouraged him to take up the high jump. Later, he was spotted by coach Satyanarayana at the 2013 National Para-Athletics Championship. Satyanarayana identified Mariyappan’s talent and took him to Bengaluru for advanced training. Mariyappan learnt new techniques and developed his skills at the Sports Academy of India center for differently-abled in Bengaluru.

4.) Within just a year and a half of training, he became World No. 1 in 2015. First, Mariyappan made a mark at the national level first, then the international level, and went on to script history in Rio Paralympic games.

5.) Mariyappan used his prize money to buy a paddy field for his mother. In spite of all the hardships, Mariyappan continued to study hard. He completed his secondary school and later pursued a Bachelor of Business Administration from AVS College of Arts and Science. He wants to study further as well and is planning to opt for an MBA course.

3 Facts about Thangavelu Mariyappan:

1.) Mariyappan’s inspirational life story has been projected on screen also. Film director Aishwaryaa Dhanush's Mariyappan is a biographical sports drama movie based on Mariyappan Thangavelu's life.

2.) Mariyappan was awarded 75 lakhs by the Sports Ministry and 2 crores by Jayalalithaa’s government after his brilliant showing at the Rio Games.

3.) In his first competitive event against able-bodied athletes aged 14, Mariyappan surprised everybody and came second.


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