They win a bronze and four gold medals in skating events

These youngsters with special abilities have done Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts proud by winning four gold medals and a bronze medal in the just-concluded Special Olympics in Athens, Greece. They are expected to return in a couple of days.

Royston Pinto (20), country's fastest skater among special persons, who works in a private bank, and Dhanya Rao (14), who has won medals in national level meets, are from Mangalore. Pramila Pinto (20) is from Pambur in Udupi.

While Royston won the 1,000 M speed skating race in the higher ability category, Dhanya, bagged two gold medals, one in the 30 M Slalom Race where she had to make snake-like movement between five equidistant cones and 30 M Straight Line Race, in the lower ability category. Pramila, who participated in the lower ability category but in the higher age group, bagged gold in 30 M Straight Line and bronze in 30 M Slalom Race.

Royston and Dhanya were trained by city-based coach Mahesh Kumar.

He said that his efforts to get Dhanya included in the team that left for Greece a month ago paid rich dividends. The medal winners had put in hard work, he added. Royston bagged gold medals in 100 M, 300 M and 2x200 M relay skating, pairing up with Bangalore's Manoj Kumar in the national-level Roller Skating Special Olympics held in Hyderabad in September 2009. Known for his concentration, he has a typical style of holding his hands clenched together on his back. Dhanya, who too bagged a silver medal in the Hyderabad event, has made her parents Vasanth S. who runs a medical store and Renuka K., commerce lecturer in Gokarnanatheshwara College, proud. When they sent her for training under Mr. Mahesh Kumar, they only hoped that Dhanya's Down Syndrome would be less haunting for her. But today “skating has become part of her life,” Ms. Renuka said.

She has now become an independent person and has commitment to studies. She is a fifth standard student at Chetana School, an institution in Kodialbail, for special children.

Dhanya's parents and her school are preparing for a grand welcome for her on July 8 with Mayor Praveen scheduled to attend the function.

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