Not all the participants were seasoned athletes like her, but the spirit of sportsmanship displayed by the differently abled children was unparalleled.

Abhirami Unnikrishnan leapt off the track, crossing the finish line way ahead of her competitors. She headed straight to her father and both exchanged an animated conversation, hands gesturing furiously and faces marked by joy. No words, but the sentiments of father and daughter, both hearing impaired, were clear.

The 14-year-old was one of the 750 participants of the Special Sports Meet 2012-13, organised by the Lions Club International — District 318A at the Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium on Sunday. “Abhirami is no stranger to track events. She has excelled in State-level athletics competitions and will be heading to New Delhi in February to participate in a national-level meet,” said her father R. Unnikrishnan.

Spirit of sportsmanship

Not all the participants were seasoned athletes like her, but the spirit of sportsmanship displayed by the differently abled children was unparalleled. “Lions’ Club has been hosting such sports meets for 26 years and for this year’s programme close to 30 institutes accommodating differently abled students participated,” said General Convenor, Alex Kuriakose.

Karthika Nair Smarak Samithi, Thiruvallam, is one such organisation, from where all 32 residents participated, accompanied by their trainers, hostel warden and cook. “We take part in the meet every year. Usually, we attend the meet held at Pala too, but this time, both events were held on the same day,” said one of the teachers from here.

District Governor P. Surendran underlined the need to hone the children’s extra-curricular skills. “It is far from a stiff competitive event, but a day for all of them to relax and enjoy. We have also arranged meals and accommodation for those from other districts,” he said.

The organisers had split 94 events into various categories, based on age and the nature of disability. Visually challenged, hearing impaired, neurological disorders and orthopaedic challenges were the classifications for the three age-groups. An overall ever-rolling trophy was presented to Government Vocational Higher Secondary School, Jagathy, which garnered the most number of points. Standing long jump, musical chair, shot-put, passing the ball, and 50-metre races were held, all in accordance with the abilities of each group.

Minister for Culture K.C. Joseph declared the meet open and K. Muraleedharan, MLA, distributed the prizes in the evening.

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