Mariyappan and Sharad Win Silver and Bronze Despite Rainy, Slippery Conditions
Tokyo 2020 Paralympics: Mariyappan Thangavelu was the defending champion in the event.
Mariyappan Thangavelu and Sharad Kumar won India's ninth and tenth medals of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, bagging a silver and bronze in the High Jump T63 event at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night.
Mariyappan had come into Tokyo as the defending champion in the event, having won a gold in Rio five years back with a jump of 1.89m. However on Tuesday, in slippery conditions due to rain he could manage only 1.86m as American Sam Grewe outjumped him by clearing 1.88 metres.
Mariyappan tried to clear 1.88 but failed in three attempts.
Sharad Kumar bagged the bronze medal with a jump of 1.83m. The third Indian in the field, Varun Bhati, who won bronze in Rio Paralympics in 2016, finished sixth with a valid jump of 1.77m.
Mariyappan, whose leg was crushed by a vehicle when he was on his way to school in his village in Salem district of Tamil Nadu, wears socks in the leg that has impairment. He has spikes on the other leg. Sharad too uses spikes only in one leg and both said that taking off for the jump was difficult in the rainy conditions.
"The socks on my leg got soggy and it was impacting take-off for the jump. If there was no rain, I could have cleared 1.90 metres easily as I had started well and got into a good rhythm," Mariyappan said during a virtual press conference facilitated by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
Coach Satyanarayana said Mariyappan has jumped 2.00 metres during training and could have done the same Tokyo had it not been for the rain. Mariyappan said the rain was a hindrance after they raised the bar to 1.80m or above.
"It was alright till 1.80m but once we tried to go higher, takeoff was very difficult," he added.
Sharad said balance was an issue for him because of the rain.
"Rain during the event was dangerous too as we have only one leg to balance on. We had spikes in only one leg whereas the American jumper had it on both his legs. I tried speaking to the officials but as the American was ready to go on, the event continued," said Sharad.
Besides rain, Sharad had another problem, he had injured the meniscus in his knee on Monday night and for a long time was scared he may have to miss the event.
"It was very bad. Unfortunately, I landed on my meniscus and it got dislocated. I was very worried and talked to my parents and brother and they said don't think about it and just jump. It is very easy to say go and jump but very difficult to actually do that," said Sharad, whose impairment is the result of the effects of polio, diagnosed at age two. The illness caused paralysis in his left leg.
The T42 category comprises sportspersons who have "one or more impairment types affecting hip and/or knee function in one or both limbs and with activity limitations".
The Indian medal tally at the Tokyo Paralympics has now reached 10 after Singhraj Adhana won the bronze medal in the 10m air pistol SH1 event earlier on Tuesday.
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