World Para Athletics C'ships: Mariyappan, Varun lead Indian contingent

Mariyappan Thangavelu, Deepa Malik and Varun Singh Bhati will be the Indians to watch out for at the World Para Athletics Championships.

Mariyappan Thangavelu won the gold medal in the men's final high jump - T42 at the Rio Paralympic Games.   -  AFP

Mariyappan Thangavelu, Deepa Malik and Varun Singh Bhati will be the Indians to watch out for at the World Para Athletics Championships, which unfolds in London on Friday.

A 1.89 m leap in the men's high jump (T-42) event at the Rio Paralympic games earned Mariyappan a historic gold medal, appreciation from many of his illustrious compatriots, and put him in the media spotlight.

 

"Now a lot of people know who Mariyappan is," says the 22-year-old, who hails from Salem. There's even a biopic being made about him. "Lot of them, especially children, take up sports after watching my videos. It really makes me happy."

The glory of Rio, he'd want to replicate in London.

Varun, who won a Paralympic bronze in high jump, too, is confident of winning a medal for India in London. A 1.78 m jump secured his spot for the championships — it might be away from his 1.86 m leap in Rio, but he's confident of peaking in London.

Deepa, however, isn't sure of a medal at the event. India's first woman to win a Paralympic medal (a silver in shot put) couldn't train well after her father was diagnosed with cancer. The 46-year-old said that she'd treat the championships as a comeback to the international arena and a "build-up to next year’s Asian Games."

She's also focusing on javelin throw and is working on her speed and flexibility.

The last Championships were held in Doha, Qatar, in October 2015 and attracted 1,229 athletes from 90 countries. This year's championships is being billed as the biggest edition, with more tickets sold than in all of the eight previous championships combined. Over 1,074 athletes from 91 nations will compete in 213 medal events.

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