Rio de Janeiro : India’s Mariyappan Thangavelu created history by winning a gold medal in the men’s high jump T-42 event at the Rio Paralympics here.
His compatriot Varun Singh Bhati clinched the bronze medal in the same event here on Friday night.
While Thangavelu made a leap of 1.89 metres, Bhati jumped his personal best of 1.86 metres to finish third. Sharad Kumar, the other Indian in the fray, finished at the sixth position.
The US’s Sam Grewe bagged the silver medal.
This was the third gold medal for India in the history of the Paralympic Games. Swimmer Murlikant Petkar had won India’s first gold at the 1972 edition while Devendra Jhajharia had clinched the second gold by winning the javelin event at the 2004 Games.
The event witnessed a fierce contest with six of the 12 athletes clearing the 1.74m mark in their first eight attempts.
But Thangavelu became a part of the leading group after his 10th attempt when he cleared the 1.77m mark along with Lukasz Mamczarz of Poland, China’s Zhiqiang Zhing and Kumar.
He then went into the lead along with Bhati as both managed to clear the 1.83m mark. Kumar however, could not improve his performance and eventually crashed out of medal contention.
Grewe pushed Thangavelu and Bhati to the joint second position by clearing 1.86m to grab the top spot.
But both Indians made a strong comeback by equalling the height to share the pole position.
Thangavelu eventually made sure of the gold with an effort of 1.89m in his final attempt while Grewe and Bhati finished with best efforts of 1.86m.
Both Thangavelu and Bhati are in line for rich financial rewards as the Sports Ministry had earlier announced that the Indian gold medallists from the Paralympic Games will be awarded Rs.75 lakh each, the silver medallists will get Rs.50 lakh while Rs.30 lakh will be given to the bronze medallists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Sonia Gandhi took to social media platform Twitter to congratulate Thangavelu and Bhati on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Indian archer Pooja finished the ranking round at the 29th spot with a total of 513 points in the Recurve archery event.
Pooja started the event with a total of 47 points from her first six arrows as she scored 9, 8,8, 8, 7 and 7.
In the second set the Indian improved her performance as she added another 50 points to her score after getting scores of 10, 9, 8, 8, 8 and 7 points.
But the third series saw a below-par performance as she scored only 43 points with 9, 8, 8, 7, 6 and 5 points. She scored another disappointing 45 points from her fourth series as she scored 9, 9, 7, 7, 7 and 6 points.
In the fifth and sixth series, she only managed to score 41 points with scores of 9, 7, 7, 7, 6 and 5 in the fifth series and 9, 8, 8, 7, 6 and 6 points in her sixth series respectively.
Sakshi Malik @SakshiMalik
Indian sports mein prerna ki kami nahin hai.Congrats Mariyappan Thangavelu aur Varun Bhati aapke gold aur bronze ke liye. #Paralympics
Virender Sehwag @virendersehwag
Congrats to #MariyappanThangavelu for gold & Varun Singh fr bronze in #Paralympics These true heroes defy all odds
Lt. Anurag Thakur @ianuragthakur
The ‘bar has been raised’ & history has been created #MariyappanThangavelu & #VarunSinghBhati u both hv made d nation proud #Paralympics
Harsha Bhogle @bhogleharsha
Mariyappan Thangavelu’s high jump gold at the Paralympics is stunning, inspiring and humbling.
Harbhajan Turbanator @harbhajan_singh
Ekdum shaandar #MariyappanThangavelu and #VarunSinghBhati! #Paralympics mein medal ke liye badhaiya! We are proud of you.
Mohandas Menon @mohanstatsman
21-yr-old Mariyappan Thangavelu was just five years old when a bus ran over his right leg crushing it. Today a #Gold for IND #Rio2016
Gautam Gambhir @GautamGambhir
Two high jumps for Indian athletes, two giant leaps for India! Congrats Mariyappan Thangavelu and Bhati Varun Singh!