High time we acclaim Thangavelu and Bhati as real heroes

Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu have made the nation proud and all Indians have been outpouring with emotions and gifts, grants and monetary rewards poured in for them ever since other than the 24/7 limelight these Olympic medal winners attained from the media.

The well-deserved success of these decorated Olympic winners will trail for some time now but it is sad to learn that Mariappan Thangavelu and Varun Bhati who won the gold and bronze in the high jump at the Rio Paralympics failed to create the same keenness and zest amongst countrymen and the retort to the gold and bronze in the Para Games has at best been muted in the country.

The question that crops up is that aren't we discriminating between Olympians and Paralympians? Don't Thangavelu and Varun deserve equal celebrity status as Sakshi or Sindhu? Don't they deserve the same amount of gifts and grants or respect for what they did for the country?

Our society failed to encourage the physically challenged lot and it is quite disappointing that India do not have apt facilities that will encourage the talented physically challenged people to take up sport and those like Mariappan and Varun who have made the country proud, very little has been done to decorate them and turn them into national icons. Such an appalling mind-set betrays the very ideals of equality and civil liberty that the country stands for and the Rio Paralympics should emerged as a major platform in transforming this trend.

These champions have upheld themselves and proved that despite of no apt facilities and infrastructure, their will and the determination made them succeed. It was about the burning desire to make the country proud. They did what any sportsperson physically challenged or not challenged for his or her country. It is high time that we acclaim Thangavelu and Bhati as real heroes and give them their deserved recognition and progress as a sporting nation which respects diversity to embrace sport in all its forms and complexities.


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