Official apathy cripples disbaled athletes

However, the State government, is yet to felicitate the athletes who made the State proud at the 13th Special Olympics World Summer Games held from June 25 to July 4, 2011.

I R Perumal, Principal Secretary, Youth Affairs and Sports, had promised Rs 10 lakh to the Special Olympics Bharat, Karnataka (SOBK), and Rs 2.5 lakh to athletes from the State.

Also, the medal winners were to be honoured with cash awards on their return. But this is not yet  materialised as not a single function has been held to felicitate the winners two months after their arrival.

When Deccan Herald contacted Perumal said the Minister for Youth Services and Sports has to take the decision and till then even a tentative date for the felicitation cannot be given.”

Thankam Jayachandran, Area Director of SOBK, an NGO that financially supports and trains the athletes for the games, said they struggled hard to get the financial aid to train and send the athletes for the contest.

“The athletes performed well and made us proud. It’s really sad that their hard work and excellence are yet to be recognised. We have been constantly following it up but the government is simply dragging its feet and deferring the felicitation,” he added.

The special children (with an Intelligence Quotient below 70) were selected from schools for the disabled and the performing athletes were registered under the SOBK, after which they were trained by experts.

Bharati Kothari, a swimming coach, said, “We have good coaching facilities in Bangalore and Mysore. It’s amazing that these children, like others, have a deep desire to succeed.”

SOBK is currently supported financially by Tata Steel and the Sports Authority of India (SAI). The NGO, headed by Air Marshal N Menon (Retd), conducted a six-day coaching camp for more than 300 athletes from the South Western region from August 23 to 28 at the Kanteerava stadium in the City.

While Santosh Kumar who won silver in the 3000 mt run aims to win more medals in the next games, his father Ravindra Kumar expects the government to lend some support to fulfil his dream.

The Special Olympics world games were started in 1968 and are held every four years.

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