“I like competing, the loud cheers, and the spirit of the game,” says 50-year-old Mohammed Ali with the alacrity of a young sportsman, as his daughter helps him with his crutches to walk to the venue of a shot put competition that he was participating in on Saturday.
He was just one of the 800 participants, many of who had come from rural areas from across the State to showcase their abilities in various sports held as part of the tenth State-level sports meet for people with disabilities, organised by the Tamil Nadu Handicapped Federation Charitable Trust.
Apart from the several events under the special athletics category, seventy other events including walking race, wheel chair race, tri cycle race, Kabaddi and a number of indoor games were also part of the event. “ Events such as this help us understand the rules of disability sports better,” says A. Ayakannu , a kabaddi participant from Villupuram. “There are strict rules even here,” he says, pointing to an instance of how it is ensured that only people with similar physical disability compete - persons with disability in one leg have to kneel down to play a game with anyone who has physical disability in both legs.
The lack of awareness about such games, and the shortage of trainers often result in wasted opportunities, said M. Manikandan, a participant from Tindivanam.
Most excited were the children with physical disabilities. “It is a rare sight to see my son so happy and different from what he is everyday,” said P. Porkudi, mother of fourteen-year-old Bhaskaran , a participant with physical disability and neurological problems.
In the same event, performers with disability at various international sports events were also felicitated. Singapore
Consulate General in Chennai Ajit Singh, and DGP and Director of Fire and Rescue Services R. Nataraj were the special guests. G. Chidambaranathan, president and P. Simmachandran, secretary of the organisation participated.