Mariyappan Thangavelu - Rio 2016

Mariyappan Thangavelu


At Rio 2016, Thangavelu won India’s first Paralympic gold medal since 2004 with victory in the men’s high jump T42. His achievements and life are now being made in to a film titled “Mariyappan” by director Aishwaryaa Dhanush.

He qualified for Rio in March 2016 clearing a height of 1.78m at the Grand Prix in Tunis, Tunisia. He secured Paralympic gold in Rio with a jump of 1.89m, an Asian record.

Encouraged to take up sport by his physical education teacher, Thangavelu got into athletics while he was a student at school in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

He injured his leg at age nine when a bus rolled over it on his way to school, crushing it below the knee. The accident stunted the growth of his leg.

In 2015, Thangavelu completed a bachelor's degree in business administration from AVS College of Arts and Science.


Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Limb deficiency
Origin of Impairment
T42, F42

Further personal information

English, Tamil
Higher education
Business Administration - AVS College of Arts And Science: India

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
He got into athletics while he was at school in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Why this sport?
His physical education teacher encouraged him to take up the sport.
Name of coach
Satyanarayana [personal], IND

International debut

Competing for

General interest

Most influential person in career
His family. (Athlete, 26 Apr 2016)
Hero / Idol
Indian actor Rajinikanth, who is from the same region in India as him [Tamil Nadu]. (Athlete, 26 Apr 2016)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"Try and try again, you will succeed in the end." (Athlete, 26 Apr 2016)
Awards and honours
In 2020 he was presented with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the highest sporting honour in India. (, 05 Sep 2020)

He was flag bearer for India at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Para Games in Indonesia. (, 02 Oct 2018)

In 2017 he was presented with the Padma Shri Award, India's fourth highest national civilian honour. (, 03 Jul 2017)
He became the first Indian high jumper to win gold at the Paralympic Games when he triumphed in the T42 category at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. (SportsDeskOnline, 06 Jul 2017;, 10 Sep 2016)
To win a gold medal at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (, 18 Aug 2020)
His leg was crushed by a vehicle when he was on his way to school. (Athlete, 26 Apr 2016)


Unit Date Rank
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Men's High Jump T42 Final Round 2016-09-09 1