India participated in Paralympic games in Rio De Janiero from 8 to 16 Sep, 2016. India had sent a team of 19 para athletes, that constituted 16 men and 3 women. India won four medals. Two gold medals in Javelin throw and High Jump, by Devendra Jhajharia and Mariyappan Thangavelu. Deepa Malik won a silver in women’s shotput, a first for any Indian women. Varun Bhati won a bronze in High Jump.
Devendra Jhajharia and Deepa Malik are Arjuna awardees. Devendra Jahjharia is employed by Indian Railways. Financial lot of Mariyappan Thangavelu has improved post high jump medal. Tamil Nadu government has awarded him 2 crore rupees. Sports ministry has declared 75 lac cash for gold medal winners. I am sure Devendra Jhajharia, Deepa Malik and Varun Bhati will also get their share of sports ministry award.
I have not heard or read, Rajasthan and Haryana governments announcing cash prize for their champions. May be they will. I have not heard any sponsor coming forward and showering paralympic champions with awards of cash and kind. If such was the case, given track record of winning medals in paralympics, Devendra Jhajharia should have been a wealthy person. Even if that has happened, it has not come in public domain.
Some may argue, parlympic is not at the same level as olympic games. It must be remembered that timing of 1500 meter race in paralympic games was faster than that of Olympic games. Oscar Pistorius had competed in both olympic and paralympic games. All said and done, paralympians are competing against their compatriots with similar disability.
It takes a lot to overcome physical disability and lead a regular life, let alone compete in sports. Our hats must be off, and heads must bend at achievements of our paralympians. These men and women have achieved what many able bodied athletes could not. In a further demonstration of his spirit, Mariappan Thangavelu has promised to donate 30 lac from his prize money to his school. God bless!