Rio de Janeiro: Mariyappan Thangavelu scripted history at the ongoing Rio Paralympics, becoming the first Indian para-athlete to bag a gold medal in the men's high jump-T42 finals on day two of the prestigious tournament at the Olympic Stadium.
The 21-year-old, hailing from Salem district in Tamil Nadu, grabbed the top honours with a best leap of 1.89 metres, while compatriot Varun Singh Bhati produced his personal best mark of 1.86 metres to win the bronze medal behind American Sam Grewe, who also registered the same mark.
India's other medal prospect Sharad Kumar, who was leading at one stage, failed to sustain his momentum as he finished at number six.
It was heartbreak for Kumar, who led the pack at one stage after clearing hurdles of 1.55m and 1.60m. His best jump, though, was only 1.77m which placed him at the sixth position.
The event witnessed huge competition as six out of the 12 para athletes cleared the 1.74m mark in their first eight attempts.
Mariyappan, who was injured by a car when he was a child, became only third Indian Paralympian to win a gold. Earlier, swimmer Murlikant Petkar won gold in the 1972 Games and Javelin thrower Devendra Jhajharia had won gold in Athens 2004.
In his 10th attempt, Thangavelu jumped 1.77m successfully, along with three others Poland's Lukasz Mamczarz, China's Zhiqiang Zhing and countrymate Kumar.
In the later stages with the contest being reduced to only three competitors, Bhati set the tone with a jump of 1.83m mark along with Thagavelu.
However, just when it looked like India would fetch a gold and a silver, the American cleared 1.86m to grab the top spot but the Indians also equalled the height to make it even.
Eventually, in a nail biting finale, Thangavelu grabbed the top honours by finishing with a jump of 1.89m....