By their power and unique ability, two girls from All-India Pingalwara Society home here have qualified for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games to be held in Los Angeles, US.
The ticket to LA has come after a long and tough journey for power lifters Dolly and Shallu, who are from the school for special children on Pingalwara’s Manawala campus. If being mentally challenged posed a physical barrier, being orphan was in the way of their getting a passport. “They now have the first Indian passports issued with ‘not known’ written in the column for father’s and mother’s name,” says Pingalwara administrator colonel Darshan Singh Bawa (retd), who had to struggle to convince the chief passport officer in Delhi.
“Thankfully, the chief passport officer agreed that being orphan shouldn’t deny the girls the opportunity to represent the country.” said colonel Bawa, adding: “They aren’t orphans; they are daughters of Pingalwara, and Bhagat Puran Singh (charity’s founder), gave them their home. They are our children, and we back them to succeed.”
Until they were competing in the district-level competitions, the girls trained at the school’s gymnasium only. “They performed very well in District Special Olympics (2013-14) to qualify for the state-level, then national meet in 2014-15), and now the LA event,” said Dharminder Singh, district resource person from the department of inclusive education for the disabled (under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan).
However, bringing them to the international level wasn’t easy. “Since their disability is in the range of 70%, the girls are very aggressive, which I used as their strength to make them good lifters. I employed affection, love, and humour to keep them motivated,” said Ranjeet Singh, who came in as their coach at the request of special school’s principal Vijay Sharma to Guru Nanak Dev physical education department head Sukhdev Singh. For two hour every day for a month, Ranjit Singh trained them. The girls will compete in the 100-kg open weight category in LA. Their 60-to-70-kg dead-lift ability made them qualify for the world games.
“The girls have left for a 10-day training camp in Chennai. They have made us proud,” said the principal. She, who first opened the captive-gym facility to the girls and spotted their talent, is a witness to their grit and determination.