Who won the first gold medal for India since the 2004 Paralympics?
Mariyappan Thangavelu (born 28 June 1995) is an Indian Paralympic high jumper. He represented India in the 2016 Summer Paralympics games held in Rio de Janeiro in the men's high jump T-42 category and the 2020 Summer Paralympic games held in Tokyo in the men's high jump T-63 category, winning the gold medal and silver medal respectively in the finals. He is India's first Paralympian gold medalist since 2004.
He qualified for Rio Paralympics in March 2016 clearing a height of 1.78m at the Grand Prix in Tunis, Tunisia. He secured the Paralympic gold in Rio with a jump of 1.89m, an Asian record. Encouraged to take up the 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 had injured his leg grievously when he was 9 years old in an accident on his way to school. The accident had stunted the growth of his leg.
Thangavelu was originally designated as India's flag-bearer at the march-past of the Tokyo Paralympics. He was subsequently withdrawn as he was sitting in close proximity of a traveler who later tested positive at Tokyo airport. He, however, could manage to win a silver medal in the high jump event at the 2020 Summer Paralympic games held in Tokyo.