During 18-25 March 2017, while we were busy with our daily life, 89 athletes of India were trying hard to put India’s legacy on the global map. They were pretty successful in doing so. The result says it all – they brought 37 gold, 10 silver, and 26 bronze medals to India from Austria! Together, they ended up as India’s 73 medals in the Special Olympics – World Winter Games 2017.
Special Olympics is an organization that works for intellectually disabled people. They provide year-long training to their athletes, from 169 countries, in more than 30 sports. To show the world what their actual identity is, Special Olympics conduct a World Games competition every two years. This year (2017), it was World Winter Games, held in Austria.
India in World Winter Games 2017:
89 Indian athletes traveled with their couch to the mountains of Austria. When they returned home, they had bagged 73 proud medals. India was ahead than any other country in three team events – Floor Hockey (male), Unified Floorball, and Traditional Floorball. They not only gained the medals but also set a record of gaining 30 medals in a single day.
3 gold, 3 silver, and 4 bronze came from Alpine skiing. Snowboarding team bought 8 medals. In addition, India won 5 medals in Snow Shoeing and 4 medals in Speed and Figure Skating. Women power was not even a step back here! A special women’s hockey team won 16 bronze medals. However, India secured its 73rd medal after defeating Austria by 8-0.
Welcoming Back India’s Stars:
For celebrating hard work of the Indian stars, the Special Olympics Bharat (SOB) along with a nutrition company Herbalife conducted an event. India’s pride MC Mary Kom, Heena Sidhu, and Saina Nehwal were present in the celebration. They all congratulated the athletes for their achievements. Mary Kom said, “the entire nation recognizes you. The nation is proud of you. My love and best wishes are always with you. Keep fighting hard.”
Also, Heena said, “we (she and Saina) are always looking for a source of inspiration and you guys have given us that today.” Saina said, “it’s an emotional day but a day to celebrate for us.” She further had a message, “Becoming an engineer or doctor is fine but being a sportsperson is equally important.”
However, the best words came from Air Marshal, Denzil Keelor, CEO of Special Olympics Bharat (SOB). He said,
“These (special) children participating do not want any money. They want to be treated fairly and accepted to be the way they are. They want respect and nothing else. Respect them for their abilities, not disabilities.”
These athletes are a proof that disabilities don’t mean that a person can’t do something in their life. It just means that they have a different way of doing things and achieving success. And as fellow beings, it is our duty and their right, that we treat them as equals and respect them for their choices!