After Khel Ratna recognition, Mariyappan Thangavelu targeting 2m jump in Tokyo

Mariyappan is only the second sportsperson from Tamil Nadu to be getting the prestigious award after five-time World champion Viswanathan Anand in 1991-92.

Rio Olympics para gold medallist high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu is excited to be nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.   -  C.V. Subrahmanyam

Rio Olympics para gold medallist high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu is excited to be nominated for the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, but is not resting on his laurels. He said he is working hard to repeat his performance in the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics. In fact, he is only the second sportsperson from Tamil Nadu to be getting the prestigious award after five-time World champion Viswanathan Anand in 1991-92.

“Due to Covid-19, I am not training every day. I do cycling and gym at home and 3-4 days a week I go to Airforce ground in Bengaluru and train with my coach Satyanarayana. With my training —coach is giving me heavy workload — I am confident of retaining the gold,” Mariyappan, a native of Periya Vadagampatti village in Salem, told Sportstar on Tuesday.

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There were doubts raised about his qualifications for the award as there was a case against him at the Madras High Court in 2017 on the death of a youth. But the 25-year-old, employed with Sports Authority of India as a coach, says everything is cleared.

“Police had come to my house for verification regarding my SAI job and said there is no case against me,” he said.

Mariyappan’s best effort came at the 2016 Rio Olympics when he cleared 1.89m. After that, he got a bronze each in the 2018 Asian Games (1.67m) and the 2019 World championships (1.80m). “I can do 2m and that’s my target in Tokyo. Before Covid-19, I was doing 2m in training. So it is possible,” he said.

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