Rio Paralympic gold-medallist Mariyappan, 8 others reach Tokyo

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New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) High jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu, along with two other para-athletes and six support staff, reached Tokyo on Wednesday morning ahead of the Paralympics that begin on August 24.

India sent its first batch of Paralympians to Tokyo Paralympics with just days left for the global event to begin. Mariyappan, who won gold in Rio, is India’s flag-bearer for the Tokyo Paralympics. Discus thrower Vinod Kumar, men’s javelin thrower Tek Chand have reached the venue along with Mariyappan.

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Before they left for Tokyo, the contingent was given a send-off by the members of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports (MYAS), the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

On August 17, the Indian contingent also interacted with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conference where he had praised the para-athletes for overcoming so many obstacles in life and had said, “we have to keep on improving our ways and system to develop a sports culture in India, shed fears of earlier generations”.

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Thanking the Prime Minister for his interaction with the Tokyo Paralympics contingent, the president of the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) Deepa Malik said, “I am grateful to the Prime Minister for the cheerful send-off this morning. He has motivated the athletes who are leaving for Tokyo and filled them with warmth and joy. I would also like to thank the Sports Ministry, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and the federations for their continued support, especially during this tough time of the Covid-19 pandemic when we didn’t know what will happen and if the Tokyo Paralympics will take place or not. Without their constant help and support, we would not have been able to help the athletes train during the tough times and get them ready for the global event. I am sure the athletes will do their absolute best to keep the Indian flag flying high at the Tokyo Paralympics.”

India is sending its largest-ever contingent to the Tokyo Paralympics with 54 athletes who are set to compete in nine disciplines. The mega event will kick off on August 24 and will go on till September 5.

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