Visually impaired but with a talent for sport, hunger to win

Sports Meet

The National Sports Meet for the Blind was held in Delhi at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.The 19th time since its commencement in 1982, the event saw the participation of 600 sportspersons from 14 states across India, all partially or completely blind.

The vice chairman of Indian Blind Relief Association, K C Pande says, “Even sports journalists should come here and not just feature writers. This is a sports meet and not a social inclusion seminar.”

“We do serious training and have coaches for the blind who train them all year round and some of them also broken National records,” says Pande.

India has produced some eminent international champions through its participation is sports meets for the visually challenged across the globe. In 2009 eight young athletes won nine gold medals and five gold medals in 2011 in Colorado Springs, United States. In the past few years these athletess have also
participated in international sports meet in Spain, Brazil and Turkey bagging various medals.

Participants at the sports event were segregated in three parts as per their ability criteria, like B1 wherein the participants were completely blind, B2 partially blind and B3 who have low vision.

Saheb Hussain, a national record breaker says, “I have been practising since 2008. I want to win the paralympics medal for my country. I couldn’t participate last year in South Korea as no one sponsored me, but I hope to do better so that I get sponsored next time.”

In the year 2012 Hussain participated at the National Para-athletics Meet and got a Gold (200 mts), and two Silvers for 400 mts and 800 mts. In 2013 he bagged three Golds in 200 mts, 400 mts and 800 mts. He also bagged four Golds, two Silvers in the Paralympic Games and to date has 13 gold medals in his kitty.

These children all come from villages from various parts of the country. Shampa Mondal has broken the national record every time, once in 2012 long jump and 100 metres race and then the same year in 200 metres race.

Mondal says, “I joined in 2012 Indian Blind Sports Association and have been
practising since then. When I came from my village for the first time, I did not know anything about sports. I was scared and did not want to try but I broke a national record in my first race itself. I want to dedicate my life to sports now.”

Coach Mihir Mondal has been associated with IBSA since 2006 as a physical trainer. He told Metrolife, “I had a life changing moment, which is a long story, but I have dreamed of changing their lives and I wish to make my dream come true. I have grown tremendously with these children. I feel somewhat successful in my mission when I say , I have now taken them to national tournaments in Bengaluru, Chennai, Punjab as runners.”

Pande added, “This is the largest disability sports meet in the country and the oldest too. We have athletics and also games like chess and judo. Our next initiative is to introduce football and kabaddi for the blind.”

The participants are not paid remuneration of any kind but their travel and stay is paid for. Pande added that “Challenges like popularising the sports, improving its quality and organising coaching camps throughout the year consistently remains our
top priority.”

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