It was their first international exposure, for the three differently-abled persons from Kodagu, but they brought laurels to the country at the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games held at New Castle, Australia, last month in which 29 countries participated.

M.P. Mandanna, a 27-year-old, won gold medal in 100 mt, bronze in 200 mt and silver in 4 X 400 mt relay, while 16-year-old C.R. Gowtham won silver in singles and bronze in doubles in Bocce. H.M. Arun, a 20 year-old, was placed 4th in singles and 6th in doubles in Bocce.

The trio from Swastha, a rehabilitation centre for differently abled children located in Suntikoppa in Kodagu district, were part of the Indian contingent of 381 athletes that returned with a rich haul of 387 medals, including 111 gold medals and 136 silver medals.

In all, 20 athletes and nine coaches through Special Olympics Bharat Karnataka represented the State, bagging nine gold, nine silver and nine bronze medals.

“It was a nice experience and a great pleasure to participate in the games,” Mr. Mandanna told presspersons here on Friday.

“I want to improve on my performance,” he added. Mr. Arun and Mr. Gowtham too concurred with Mr. Mandanna on their experience.

According to Biju Thayathvalapil, a special educator at Swastha, Asia Pacific games was the first international exposure for the three, who had earlier participated in the national games.

They have already started training for the World Special Olympics scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, US in 2015, Mr. Biju said.

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