Paralympics Gold medallist high jumper Mariyappan felicitated

Felicitations for Mariyappan will continue for another fortnight as he travels to Hyderabad and New Delhi, among other places, before resuming training in Bengaluru.

Mariyappan Thangavelu felicitated in Bengaluru.

“I haven’t slept properly since winning gold as phone kept ringing and I was tired answering them. There were times when I was scared of taking calls,” said Mariyappan.   -  G.P Sampath Kumar

Nearly a month has passed since T. Mariyappan bagged a historic gold in the men’s high jump (T-42) event at the Paralympic Games in Rio.

The celebrations, though, haven’t subsided for the 21-year-old hailing from a small village called Periavadagampatti in Salem district of Tamil Nadu.

He had just recorded for 'Comedy Nights with Kapil' in Mumbai for Sony TV and another one for Vijay TV’s Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi in Chennai.

Felicitations will continue for another fortnight as he travels to Hyderabad and New Delhi, among other places, before resuming training in Bengaluru.

“I haven’t slept properly since winning gold as phone kept ringing and I was tired answering them. There were times when I was scared of taking calls,” Mariyappan told Sportstar here on Saturday, after being felicitated by Velammal VidyalayaSchool (Mel Ayanambakkam).

When asked how he is going to manage the cash awards that have poured in from so many quarters, Mariyappan said his priority is to “take care of my mother well.” He said he is still residing in a rented house and he will soon build a new house nearby.

On the coaches’ controversy, Mariyappan replied, “as I have said many times, Satyanarayana is my coach and everyone knows about it.”

According to Satyanarayana, this is the first time that three Indians in the top three of the world rankings — Mariyappan, Varun Singh Bhati and Sharad Kumar — took part in the high jump event of the Paralympics. “In no other event (from India) in Rio, it has happened,” he said.

Earlier, answering questions from students, Mariyappan said though he won medals at the national-level earlier, it was only during his second year in AVS College in 2014-15 that he was noticed. “In my second year, Satyanarayana saw my talent, spoke to my family, college staff and spend his own money for training and tournaments abroad. I also want to thank Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu for their help,” he said.

Mariyappan said he will now focus on the 2017 World championship in London (July 14 to 23) and the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta (October 8 to 16).