To do their country proud, a group of 68 children with special needs is heading to Australia to participate in an 11-day “Special Olympics Regional Asia Pacific Games” beginning on November 28.

Prachi Jainwar is among those determined athletes. Her calm demeanour speaks about her preparedness for the big event.

Her father P. Ranjan Singh, a civil engineer from Bihar, reminisces that when he had discovered that his second daughter had learning disability, his world came crashing. But, with help from the family and teachers, Prachi’s intelligence quotient is increasing by the day. “I have hired a tutor for her. I attend all her school events to instil confidence in her. She is now confident of herself. Participation in various events across the country has boosted her morale,” he says.

Arti Sharma, another participant, is not unduly bothered about going to a foreign land. “I came with flying colours at the winter sports in Shimla in 2009 and hope to repeat my performance in Australia too.”

Rajan Jha, who is determined to prove his mettle in table tennis, is a big fan of cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. Like the Little Master, he too wants to break all records and do his parents, coach and most importantly the entire nation proud of his achievements.

Though accustomed to eating his staple diet of crisp chapatis, dal and green vegetables, Rajan is ready to experiment with a different cuisine.

Aditi Sabharwal, the team’s assistant coach, says she derives inspiration from iconic actor Shah Rukh Khan’s pep talk to the Indian women’s hockey team before their big match in “Chak De! India”. She too plans to give her own inspiring speech to the contingent when it descends on Newcastle for the big event.

Security concern of all children, most of whom are going unaccompanied by their parents, is uppermost.

President of Delhi Chapter of ‘Special Olympics Bharat’ Air Marshal S. K. Malik informs that the contingent is taking precaution to prevent any untoward incident.

“We have a code of conduct in place. We have female coaches for girls. There is one coach each for four sportspersons.”

According to New Delhi Municipal Council Director (Education) Vidushi Chaturvedi, the participating children are as vulnerable as any other kids of their age. “They are a sensible lot and the Australian Government is taking care of their needs. There is a single window clearance for all visas.”

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