Having clinched a silver and a bronze medal in Rio Olympics 2016, India did much better at the Paralympic Games 2016 by bagging two golds, a silver and a bronze.
A total of 19 para-athletes, the largest-ever delegation from the country, are representing India at the Paralympic Games, from September 7 to 18.
Meet the country’s pride
Devendra Jhajharia: The 36-year-old athlete bagged gold in the men’s javelin throw event. His attempt of 63.97 metres broke his own world record throw of 62.15 metres in 2004. He had won gold in javelin at 2004 Athens Paralympics. Currently, he is ranked third in the world.
Jhajharia was electrocuted while climbing a tree when he was eight-years old. As a result his left hand had to be amputated. But that didn’t deter his spirit. He began participating in para-athletics in 1995 while in school. He made his international debut in 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea.
He was awarded the Arjuna award in 2004. He became the first paralympian to receive Padma Shri – fourth highest civilian honour – in 2012.
In 2013, he won gold at the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Athletics World Championships in Lyon. In 2014, FICCI named him the para-sportsperson of the year.
He currently lives in Jaipur with his wife and daughter and is employed with the Indian railways. He is also a member of the paralympics committee of Rajasthan.
Deepa Malik: The 45-year-old athlete from Sonipat, Haryana bagged a silver medal in the women’s shotput event, with a personal best throw of 4.61 metres. She is the first Indian female medallist in the history of the Paralympic Games.
In 1999 a spinal tumour left her paralysed waist down. The tumour had to be operated and 31 surgeries were conducted.
Besides shotput, Malik has participated in javelin throw, swimming and has also been a motivational speaker. She has also won medals in swimming at international competitions. She holds the Asian record in javelin throw, and also has World Championships silver medals in shot put and discus in 2011. She received Arjuna Award in 2012.
Malik is India's first physically challenged person to be given a licence by the Motorsports Club of India. Her name is registered twice in the Limca Book of Records, once for crossing 1 km stretch of the Yamuna River against the current in 2008, and then again for covering 58 km by riding a special bike in 2013.
She is married to an army officer and has two children.
Mariyappan Thangavelu: The 20-year-old won gold in the Men’s High Jump category. He bagged the medal with a best effort of 1.89 m. He has pledged Rs 30 lakh of this prize money to his government school in Tamil Nadu.
Hailing from a small village near Salem district in Tamil Nadu, Thangavelu was permanently disabled after a bus ran over his right leg at the age of five. His mother is a fruit seller in Salem.
In March, he achieved the ‘A’ qualification standard of 1.60m for the paralympics with an effort of 1.78 m at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Grand Prix in Tunisia.
Varun Singh Bhati: The 21-year-old took a bronze at the Men’s High Jump category. His best jump of 1.86m got him the bronze.
Bhati was struck by polio at a young age.
In 2014, Bhati won gold at the China Open Athletics Championship and finished fifth at the Asian Paralympic Games in Incheon, South Korea. He recorded another fifth-place finish at last year’s Para World Championship in Doha and won gold at this year’s IPC Asia-Oceania Athletics Championship.