Eyes set on special meet

SPECIAL OLYMPICS, an international organisation dedicated to `enabling' individuals with mental retardation through sports training and competitions, has declared India a priority nation along with China. The programme is run by Special Olympics Bharat (SOB), the India chapter of Special Olympics, currently working in 21 Indian States.

SOB has been given the mandate to extend this programme throughout the country and train 800,000 athletes and 4,000 coaches in the next five years. The programme offers children and adults with mental retardation year round training in 11 sports. With its headquarters in New Delhi, SOB provides administrative and operational support to accredited sub-programmes in all the States.

According to the chairman of SOB, Air Marshal Denzil Keelor (Retd), "There is no cost to participate in Olympics. Among our immediate tasks is the preparation of a contingent of 88 Indian athletes for Dublin Special Olympics meet in 2003 requiring intense training of athletes as well as recruiting additional coaches. This will be the largest ever contingent from India and will also be the biggest from the entire Asia Pacific region.''

In order to further expand the programme, SOB is in the process of identifying more special schools, institutions, rehabilitation centres, regular schools with special sections and community organisations that work with the intellectually challenged. It has set itself the target of working with 10 slum and 10 village communities each year within each State.

By Bindu Shajan Perappadan

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