The Paralympics held in Rio have given the world some awe inspiring sights. Physically challenged individuals put some inspirational performances making us wonder where do they get the drive to achieve what able bodied individuals will find difficult to accomplish. Let us looks at some of these inspirational individuals from India and around the world who performed brilliantly, inspiring the people around the world.
Devendra Jhajharia often referred to as the ‘father of para-athletics in India’, is now the world record holder for Javelin Throw. He was only 8 years old when climbed up a tree and accidentally kept his left hand on a 11,000-volt strong electric cable. He was immediately rushed to the hospital where they amputated his left hand completely. Despite such a setback, he went on to do great things in life and has managed the greatest feat any Indian athlete has ever managed in Olympics or Paralympics. Not only has the 35-year old won gold, but he’s done it by setting a new World record. He broke his own world record of 62.21m which he had set in Athens 2004. A throw which sailed 63.97 m across the Maracana stadium today has officially made him the nation’s most successful athlete.
Mariyappan Thangavelu clinched the gold medal in the men’s T42 high jump finals in Rio de Janeiro by cruising over the 1.89-meter mark. He was the World Number 1 in 2015, his first year of senior-level competition. Born in the Periavadamgatti village, 50 km away from Salem, his mother sells vegetable for a living. When he was five, his right knee was crushed under wheels while on his way to school. That left him with a permanent disability. A few years back, she took a loan of Rs. 3 lacs for his medical treatment which has not been repaid till date. Despite all the hardships life has thrown, today in Rio, the 21-year old high jumper became the first medalist of India in this edition of the Paralympic Games.
Deepa Malik, age 45, registered a personal best throw of 4.61 m in F53 Shotput worthy of a silver medal. At the age of 6, she was diagnosed with a tumor that inhibited all functions of her spinal cord. At present, she has over 200 stitches between her shoulder blades and no physical sensation below her chest. Apart from Shotput, Deepa has also won accolades in Discus throwing, Javelin, motor sports and Swimming. Deepa is also a successful entrepreneur and currently is a member of the working committee designed by the HRD Ministry to formulate a cohesive plan on Sports Development and Physical Education in the country. At 42 years, she was the oldest ever recipient of the Arjuna award which she was awarded in 2012.
Varun Singh Bhati
Indian para-athlete Varun Singh Bhati, who clinched the bronze medal in the men’s high jump T-42 event at the Rio Paralympics. Struck by Polio at a young age, Varun somehow managed to find the right balance in sport and education and excelled in both the fields. Despite his disability, Varun took to high jump from his school days and consistently got better. He competed on many occasions with able-bodied athletes. The 21-year-old, who is a resident of Greater Noida, came into the limelight in 2012 when he registered the ‘A’ qualification mark for the 2012 Paralympics in London with a performance of 1.60m. However, due to limited slots available to India, he failed to make the cut for London 2012. He was also part of the Indian team for the 2014 Asian Para Games in Incheon (South Korea) where he finished fifth. The same year he won a gold medal at the 2014 China Open Athletics Championship.
Abdellatif Baka of Algeria has won the men’s 1,500m T13 final at the Rio Paralympics — with a time faster than the gold medal winner at the Olympics last month. In fact, the top four place getters in the Paralympics race all beat American Matthew Centrowitz’s winning time of 3:50.00. Baka won gold in a time of 3:48.29, while silver medal-winner Tamiru Demisse of Ethiopia (3:48.59), bronze medalist Henry Kirwa of Kenya (3:49.59) and fourth-placed Fouad Baka of Algeria (3:49.84) all also raced faster than Centrowitz.
Image Credits: Sun, NDTV, Daily Post, Zee News, India Times, YouTube, Quint.
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