Published: 06th March 2019
Meet the three diffabled youngsters who are itching to make India proud at the Special Olympics
Three differently abled youngsters from Bellary will be participating in the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi 2019. The trio train for over six hours every day and are now ready to compete
When Veena HV (24), Sushantho Bose (24) and Mallappa Rajgolkar (21) were informed that they will be part of the Indian contingent competing at this year's Special Olympics World Games, their happiness knew no bounds. They could not believe that their dream was going to finally turn into reality. Despite being specially-abled, these three students can do everything other athletes can. From powerlifting to cycling, they own what they do and even add their own style and speed to it. Currently, they are in Delhi training for the final showdown at the Special Olympics World Games to be held in Abu Dhabi from March 14 to 22.
Among these three, Veena and Sushantho are powerlifters while Mallappa is a cyclist. Both these sports are demanding and preparing the trio, both physically and mentally, for the Special Olympics has been a challenge for Saadhya Residential School and Vocational Training for Specially-abled at Bellary. Founder and Chairperson of the school Arathi KT says, "Powerlifting and cycling are professional sports and one has to be trained very well in them. Since these children are hyperactive, it was challenging for us to convince them to pursue one particular activity. For powerlifting, the candidates need to follow a particular diet so that their body weight adheres to the criteria set by Special Olympics. We provide them with food which is high in proteins. Chapati, roti or any millet is a staple and rice is a complete no-no. Eight hours of sleep is a must for the candidates. Maintaining the same weight for a period of two years is a huge challenge for them as they go through several rounds of selection. If any of these guidelines are not followed, then it will adversely affect their performance. Meanwhile, when it comes to cycling, aspirants need to understand their own speed and style."
Women Power: Veena HV is a 24-year-old who will be representing India at the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019
Often, these kids tend to lose hope when they see another candidate performing well. Therefore, the teachers motivate them by narrating anecdotes and real-life stories of other athletes. "Whenever they win, we give them gifts so that they remain motivated. Apart from this, we show them pictures of previous winners of Special Olympics World Games and inform the aspirants how they went on to win," explains Arathi.
In order to identify which sport they are best suited to and are interested in, the institution gives aspirants a chance to play all sports. Arathi says, "Initially, neither we nor our students knew their interests. Therefore, we involved them in all sports and checked which sport they performed best in. Later, we started training our students in powerlifting and cycling. They train every day for six hours. They train from 6 am to 9 am in the morning and from 4 pm to 8 pm in the evening."
Lift up: Sushantho Bose is originally a native of Bengaluru and he is competing for the Under -49 kg category in powerlifting
These three youngsters had to go through several rounds before they were selected to represent the country. There were state and national-level competitions held in different locations. The state-level round for powerlifting was held in Mandya, where Veena was declared the winner in the Under-93 kg category and Sushantho was the winner in the Under-49 kg category. Similarly, they qualified for the nationals which was held in Kolhapur, Maharashtra. For cycling, the state-level round was held in Bellary and the national-level round was held in Ranchi and Mallappa qualified for both. "There were many kids in the state and national-level who were competing in the powerlifting and cycling categories. By watching them, our students understood how other kids play, their style, techniques and also learnt the importance of developing a positive attitude. For the final round, 289 athletes will be competing from India and 16 members will be representing Karnataka in various sports like powerlifting, swimming, running, football and others," says Arathi.
When we asked them about how important it is to encourage kids, especially those who are specially-abled, to take up sports, Arathi opines, "Winning or losing is all a part of the game. These kinds of sports meets and tournaments provide an opportunity for the specially-abled to showcase their talent. Most of the times, special kids are excluded from society and parents worry about the future of these kids. But when they are a part of a bigger platform like this, they serve as role models for other specially-abled kids, inspiring them to be part of the next Special Olympics or to pursue any other ambitions they might have."