Indians shine at Special Oly Asia

Olympics is an arena where India struggle to win medals but some ‘special’ Indian athletes have managed to keep the tri-colour flying high at the recently concluded Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle, Australia.

PM Mandanna, Gautama and Arun, athletes with intellectual disabilities, are the medal winners from Swastha, a rehabilitation centre for differently abled children supported by Tata Coffee Limited, in Kodagu district. 

The 27-year-old Mandanna was a trailblazer at the meet, where 2200 athletes from 29 countries participated, held in December 2013 bagging the 100 metres gold, 200M bronze and silver in the 4x100M relay.

Mandanna’s fascination with athletics started when he was 16 and he started practising rigorously under the tutelage of coach Purnesh, who trained him in sprinting.  A gold medal at the National Games for special athletes held in Bhopal last year set up Mandanna for an impressive performance at his first Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games. 

Gautama won silver and bronze in Bocce, a ball sport played on natural soil and asphalt courts 27.5 metres in length and 2.5 to 4 metres wide, where one team has to throw the jack (smaller ball) from one end of the court into a zone five metres in length, ending 2.5 metres from the far end of the court. Arun was placed fourth and sixth respectively in the singles and doubles sections of the Bocce event. 

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