If two girls saved India’s blushes in the Rio Olympic Games, two physically challenged youngsters swelled the country’s chests with pride after their exploits in the Paralympics.
Unlike Sindhu and Sakshi who were lavished with crores and cars.
Mariappan Thangavelu and Varun Singh Bhati have not had the same kind of response for the high jump gold and bronze medals. The rush to give rousing welcomes were missing. The corporates are also far behind in announcing financial rewards to these champions.
Mercifully Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha had announced Rs 2 crores for Thanavelu, which will clear a lot of his debts and stop his mother from selling vegetables.
It was really surprising that even after winning a gold in the high jump beating all the other top country high jumpers, Thangavelu has not got the kind of response expected. This is the only third gold in the history of the Paralympics to be won by Indians. Thangavelu’s effort needs to be applauded. The Sports Ministry would do well to announce a cash incentive for him and Varun. Central Government jobs for them will certainly inspire more such physically challenged youngsters to excel in sports.
The Indian corporate world also need to do their bit, by providing financial rewards to their heroes. It would not be out of place to suggest that the Board of control for cricket in India give their bit for these atletes. It would be a great gesture.
The sports ministry will have to review the policy on the physically challenged athletes. Training structure, artificial aids, facilities and exposure should be made available to them.
The fact that javeline throwers sandeep had missed a medal and Ranbir Narender
had finished 6th in the same event shows that Indian athletes are up in the world class bracket. They just need the correct support system and facilities, which is the Government’s responsibility. They deserve a better deal indeed.