9 Things You Should Know About India at the Special Olympics

The ongoing Special Olympics World Summer Games, 2015 will continue till 2nd August. This year, India has sent 242 athletes to the games and they are all making the country proud. Here are 9 things to know about India’s participation in the games.

The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, which began on 25th July, are under way in Los Angeles and will continue till 2nd August. The world’s largest organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics provides year-round training and competitions for more than 4.4 million athletes in 170 countries. This year, 6,500 Special Olympics athletes from 165 nations are competing in 25 Olympic-type sports.

This is the 14th edition of Special Olympics World Summer Games and United States’ First Lady, Michelle Obama declared it open at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on 25th July. “Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfilment — on the playing field and in life,” describes the organization’s official website.

The Special Olympic World Games are held every two years and they alternate between Summer and Winter Games. Here are 9 things to know about India’s participation and performance in the games:

1. This year, India has sent 242 athletes, 62 coaches, 6 heads of delegations and 24 officials and assistant staff to the games.

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2. The athletes are participating in multiple disciplines including Aquatics, Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Bocce, Cycling, Football, Golf, Handball, Powerlifting, Roller Skating, Softball, Table Tennis and Volleyball.

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3. 13-year-old Yash Singh bagged the first medal for India this year, at the Special Olympics World Games.

Yash was diagnosed with mild Autism at birth. He won a bronze in the 25 meters backstroke swimming event.

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4. 14-year-old Ranveer Saini became the first Indian golfer to play in the Special Olympics World Games this year.

Ranveer was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two and he has been playing golf since he was nine. He won two gold medals at the Special Olympics Asia-Pacific Golf International in Macau, in 2013.

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5. Special Olympics Bharat is a National Sports Federation, accredited by Special Olympics International, to conduct Special Olympics programs in India.

It is recognized by the government as a National Sports Federation in the ‘priority category’. Their aim is to reach out to over 100,000 people with intellectual disabilities in India every year. A total of 671 Special Olympics Bharat athletes have participated in seven World Summer Games and five World Winter Games between 1987 and 2013, winning 246 gold, 265 silver and 275 bronze medals.

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6. In the last Special Olympics World Winter Games at Pyeong Chang, South Korea, India won 46 medals.

These victories included 13 gold, 17 silver and 16 bronze medals. There were 2,200 athletes participating from over 120 nations.

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7. A short film highlighting India’s participation in Special Olympics was selected for screening at opening ceremony.

Filmmakers Monika Kathuria and Praful Tyagi released the film to showcase the need for the country to treat people with special needs as equals. It features 17-yar-old Praveen Chaudhary a national gold medallist in football and athletics who was diagnosed as a slow learner, and 21-year-old Snehil Nagpal, who is autistic, and is a national champion in roller skating.

8. 13 of these Indian athletes, 7 girls and 6 boys, are from rural parts of the country.

In 2010, The Rural Development Trust (RDT) through its Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) schools began the Special Olympics program, with the support of Special Olympics Bharat.

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9. 10-year-old A. Devi from Madurai is the youngest in the delegation this year.

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The Special Olympics athlete oath is a very inspiring one. It says – “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Here is wishing all the participants the very best for the upcoming events.

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