SPECIAL OLYMPICS Overcoming many difficulties, these sportspersons have done the country and State proud at national and international events
Santosh Kumar is an exceptional talent. This 23-year old differently-abled athlete took to running when he was 17. It was the sheer pleasure that he derived when running at the same pace that was noticed by DYSS coach Ravi at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in 2007.
The youngster has since been a regular at the venue, braving all odds. “Cold and foggy mornings did not stop this determined runner, who travelled by bus every day from his house near BEL circle to the stadium,” says his father Ravindra Kumar, a 1500m runner during his school days. “He used to spend a lot of time in commutes. I started handing him training schedules which he carries out religiously at the Ambedkar Stadium in Basaveshwaranagar,” says Ravindra, who undertook a coaching diploma course in Special Olympics from Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University (RMVU), near Coimbatore in 2009, to help his son’s pursuit for excellence in athletics.
Santosh, who is the first long distance runner in Special Olympics from India was selected for the World Summer Games in 2011 after competing in the World 10K run in Bangalore and bagged silver in the 3000 metres at Athens He also finished a credible fourth at the Special Olympics World Games.
Sunitha Lobo is another achiever from Special Olympics. The 21-year old from Manasa Rehabilitation & Training Centre, Pambur in Udupi district was a member of the gold-winning Indian hockey team that won gold in the World Winter Games at Pyeongchang (South Korea) early this year.
“She is hard working and very dedicated and has won many State and National level laurels,” said Sr Thelma Louis, principal of the Manasa School and Centre. Sunitha took to sports after joining the Centre in 2003.
Other prominent achievers from Special Olympics who were awarded cash prizes of Rs. 1 lakh (for gold), Rs. 75,000 for silver and Rs. 50,000 for bronze at a felicitation function were: Gold: Atish Jadhav (Belgaum) in aquatics; Royston Pinto (Dakshina Kannada) in roller skating (two gold); Dhanya Rao (Dakshina Kannada) two gold in roller skating; Pramila J. Pinto (Udupi) – gold and bronze in roller skating. Silver: Santosh Kumar (Bangalore) athletics. Bronze: Jitesh Bhat (Davangere) in cycling; Anil Mendonca (Dakshina Kannada) in volleyball; Nisha and Rashmi (Bangalore) in handball; Roslin Mary and Deepa D’Souza (Bangalore) in volleyball and Sara Farooqui of Bangalore for power lifting. Three coaches from Karnataka – Sundaresh and Bharati Kothari (both swimming) and Rathna Shyam (table tennis) were part of the Indian contingent and were honoured.
Air Marshal Denzil Keeler, National Chairman of Special Olympics Bharat lauded the efforts of the various winners and the coaches and commented that India’s achievements at the World Winter Games was praiseworthy as there is little infrastructure in the country for winter games. Special Olympics Karnataka, earlier responsible for the intellectually-disabled only has been supported by the Department of Youth Services and Sports (DYSS) in Karnataka.