He is indeed special. Joginder Sharma, 16, has brought home a gold medal in floor hockey in the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2009 held between February 7 and February 13.
The games are held every year in the United States for differently-abled children.
A number of countries, including India, participated in the event. A total of 45 children were selected from all over India to represent India at the games.
Sharma from Ghaziabad was the only member from the NCR in the floor hockey team that beat Cyprus in the finals to win the gold.
“Hum jeet kar aayenge (We will come back with a win). I had told my schoolmates and teachers,” said Sharma, while talking about the time he left for Idaho in the US. And he has kept his word.
Sharma is a student of the secondary group at Anand Training Centre in Nandgram, Ghaziabad.
“This is a special school for training of mentally-handicapped children. He was selected to play at the state-level, national-level and then the international-level from our institution,” said Sister Sajtha, principal of the school.
Sharma’s talent was honed by his coach Surender Kumar who sent him for selections and training camps at Secunderabad, Shimla and Mumbai. “If you talk to him about his studies, he will not speak to you. But he is a chatter-box when it comes to sports, especially cricket and floor-Hockey,” Kumar said.
Sharma’s family belongs to Wazirabad in Delhi, but he lives in the school hostel at Ghaziabad.
Kiran Sharma, his mother, is the sole earning member of the family. His father passed away a couple of years ago. “It is like a dream come true. I am very happy with what my son has achieved,” said his mother, trying to hold back tears.
Sharma’s mother, who was partially disabled after sustaining injuries in her hand, works as help with some households.
“What is impressive about this child is that despite being mentally-challenged, he can go to Delhi to meet his family and come back on his own. Very few of our children can do this,” said Sister Ashish, Sharma’s teacher.