HomeSportsMariyappan Thangavelu hopes for Rio encore in Tokyo | Tokyo Olympics News

Mariyappan Thangavelu hopes for Rio encore in Tokyo | Tokyo Olympics News

CHENNAI: Tokyo Olympics concluded on August 8 but the city will remain in focus thanks to the Paralympics to be held from August 24 to September 5. India’s medal count at the Rio Paralympics stood at 4 (2 gold, 1 silver and a bronze) but that number — according to star high jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu — is likely to go up significantly at the upcoming edition in Tokyo to be held from August 24 to September 5.
“I expect our Paralympic contingent to bag medals in double digits,” the 26-year-old from Salem told TOI. India is sending its largest ever contingent — 54 members — for the event. Mariyappan will be India’s flag-bearer at the opening ceremony. He is scheduled to leave for Tokyo late on August 18.
Mariyappan, who won gold in the T-42 high jump category at Rio, believes the Covid-19 pandemic has made him work even harder on his endurance levels. “The emphasis of my training, in the last one year, has been to raise my endurance levels. Earlier, I would be able to do about 400m of running during training sessions but that has increased to almost 1200m now. The emphasis has been mainly on quality rather than quantity. Also, earlier I would concentrate only on my preparations but today I study the opponents ahead of a tournament,” said Mariyappan who was bestowed with the Khel Ratna last year.
After his feat at the Rio Games, Mariyappan endured an ankle injury on his right leg and underwent surgery in 2018. “It was initially tough when I resumed my training regime. I wanted to go full throttle but had to gradually increase my workload and not rush into it. I became more conscious about how I should train after going under the knife,” said Mariyappan, who won bronze at the 2018 Para-Asian Games in Jakarta. He qualified for Tokyo Paralympics after winning bronze in the World Para Athletic championships at Dubai in 2019. Mariyappan has been training with his long-time coach Sathyanarayana in Bengaluru in the tune-up to the Paralympics.
It is no surprise that Mariyappan is deriving inspiration from the performances of Indian athletes at the Tokyo Games. “Neeraj Chopra’s gold will motivate everyone to give our best. Each of our athletes did their best and that’s what counts. Neeraj’s effort will change the way India’s track-and-field athletes are viewed on the world stage,” he said.
Mariyappan conceded that the difference between Rio and Tokyo Paralympics was in the weight of expectations. “Not many believed I would go and win a medal in the 2016 Paralympics. But that’s not the case now as everyone expects a medal from me. The aim is to return with nothing but the gold,” said Mariyappan, who won with a 1.89M jump in Rio.

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