Mariappan Thangavelu returns home to hero's welcome

Tamil Nadu Ministers for School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, K Pandiarajan, Rural Industries Minister P. Benjamin along with several senior government officials received Mariyappan at the airport in Chennai.

Mariappan Thangavelu being greeted at the Chennai airport on Friday.   -  G. Krishnaswamy

Mariappan Thangavelu, who won a gold medal at the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, returned home to a hero's welcome here on Friday.

Tamil Nadu Ministers for School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, K Pandiarajan, Rural Industries Minister P. Benjamin along with several senior government officials received Mariyappan at the airport here, officials said.

Mariappan, hailing from Periyavadagampatti village near Salem in western Tamil Nadu, won the gold in the T-42 High Jump event with a best effort of 1.89m, leaving behind world champion Sam Grewe of the USA, who registered 1.86 m. The T-42 classification is for athletes with lower limb deficiency, leg length difference, impaired muscle power or impaired range of movement.

Mariappan, who was five when his right leg was crushed by a speeding bus, joined Murlikant Petkar (1972, swimming) and Devendra Jhajharia (2004, javelin throw) in the Indian Paralympics gold club.

Hailing his feat, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had announced a cash prize of Rs. 2 crore for Mariyappan.