These Jaipur athletes make India proud at Special Olympics

  • Vaibhav Jha, Hindustan Times, Jaipur
  • Updated: Aug 07, 2015 18:26 IST

Kesar Ara is extremely proud of her students Anurag Rathi and Charu Taneja for their brilliant performance at the just concluded Special Olympic World Summer Games 2015 in Los Angeles.

"Anurag ran with a bleeding foot but did not give up before notching two bronze medals for the country. He could have easily got the gold but for the unfortunate injury. I am sure the Winter Olympic Games in 2017 will have better things in store for him," said Ara, the 41-year-old coach at Jaipur's Disha School for differently-abled children.

While 21-year-old Anurag won two bronze medals in 500m and 2x200m relay roller skating events, Charu, who is 16, won a bronze in volleyball.

Ara had accompanied them to the American city where the 275-member strong Indian contingent pocketed 173 medals at the Special Olympics. The athletes, who competed under the banner of Special Olympics Bharat, bagged 47 gold medals, 54 silver and 72 bronze pieces 14 disciplines during the nine-day event that ended August 2.

The country was most successful in athletics where Indians collected a total of 47 medals which included three gold medals in various categories of the 100m race. They also clinched the soft ball gold on debut.

"It was a very exciting event for us, we made a lot of new friends," said Charu.

Anurag and Charu's schoolmates danced to the beats of drums to welcome the two heroes home after their successful stint at the event where more than 7,000 athletes from 189 countries participated. An overjoyed Anurag could barely utter a thank you to the hundreds of school children and his teachers.

Dharampal Rathi, Anurag's father, believes that if not for that one second, when Anurag turned back to look at his competitors during the race, he would have won the gold medal. He has been training him from a young age developing his interest in a wide variety of sports.

Charu's father Kumar Taneja, a businessman, gave credit to his daughter's determination and Ara's guidance for her success.

"Credit also goes to her younger brother Vishal who constantly practised with her. We intend to send Charu to many more competitions, but the state government should also help us. These children are not a burden on society and today they have proved it," he said.

One common complaint among the parents at the school is the lack of government support and encouragement to these differently-abled children. Taneja too expressed his disappointment with the state government that has given a cold shoulder to differently-abled children.

"The government needs to focus more on sports for these children," added Anurag's father.

Ara, who has been training these children for many years now, said they may be a considered as a burden by many in the society "but for me, they are sheer gems".

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