New Delhi, AUG 08,
The Port Trust Diamond Jubilee Outdoor Stadium buzzed with positive energy on a sunny Sunday morning.
The athletes and volunteers made the Junior Chamber International’s 17th edition of the Special Olympics a big success. Over 450 athletes from Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram took part making it the biggest JCI Special Olympics till date. Most participants represented a school or an NGO, but there were several who participated under the open category as well.
Tunes played by the Navy Children School’s music band opened the games. They led the march with drums and flutes followed by young athletes in colourful shirts. This captured the spirit of unity, just like the opening parade of the Olympics. Instead of different nations, each colour represented a school or an NGO. The formalities such as like vote of thanks ended with hoisting of balloons and high tempo music. This lifted the spirits of children. Smiling and dancing, they knew the games had finally begun.
The event had 50 metres, 100 metres and 200 metres races, discus throw, shot put, javelin and softball for various age groups in different categories, starting from eight years to above 21 years. The events were further categorised for the hearing impaired, visually challenged , differently-abled and intellectually impaired.
“This time, we have more events and that has substantially increased the number of participants,” said DVGR Reddy, sports teacher, Lebenshilfe Special School.
Over 50 children participated from the school and took home the trophy for overall best performance. Unlike the previous editions, this year, all registrations were done online. Participants were given over a month to register. Joshi Raju, project chairperson said, “We opted for online registration to effectively conduct the programme.”
However, some people who missed out on the online registration, were hopeful they could register on-the-spot like in the past; but they couldn’t. P Kusuma from the Visakha District Association of the Deaf was one them. She said, “Initially, I was a little disappointed because I wasn’t able to participate. But my mood soon changed because of so many happy people around me. I’ll register online next time.”
If the online process caused heartbreak for some, it was also a reason for joy for many. Several people were able to participate in a competitive event for the first time. Sandeep Kumar, a 23-year-old student of Andhra University, said, “I learned about this event online. I always wanted to try discus throw and shot put. Unfortunately, there is no scope to do that in college.”
The games came to an end by seven in the evening. Three teams won from Visakhapatnam —Priyadarshini Service Organisation under the hearing impaired category, Netra Vidyalaya under the visually challenged category and Lebenshilfe Special School under the intellectually impaired category. Association Saikorian Campus Challenge from Vizianagaram won under physically challenged category.
Prakash Jain, founder of JCI’s Special Olympics project, recalled how it all began and shared, “When we started this activity there were only handful of schools. But with each passing year there has been an increase in participation and the happiness we share on this day has kept us going for 17 years.”