New Delhi: India is set to make a strong statement at the upcoming Special Olympics World Summer Games in Berlin, Germany. A formidable contingent of 255 members, including 198 athletes, unified partners, and 57 coaches, will represent the country in 16 disciplines. This inclusive sporting event caters to individuals with intellectual disabilities and brings together participants from 190 countries, totalling 700 athletes and unified partners competing across 26 disciplines.
To ensure optimal preparation, the Indian athletes will partake in a training camp at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium from June 7 to 11, before departing for Berlin on June 12. Prior to their departure, a special send-off ceremony will be organized at the same stadium, graced by prominent personalities such as Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani, Indian Olympic Association chief PT Usha, cricketer Yuvraj Singh, and singer Sonu Nigam.
Anticipating a remarkable performance, Mallika Nadda, a leading social activist and Chairperson of Special Olympics Bharat, expressed her optimism regarding India’s medal prospects. Nadda emphasized the importance of participation and dignity for these athletes, stating, “The competition comes later; initially, it is about participating. I anticipate our athletes bringing home over 150 medals from the Special Olympics World Summer Games.”
Furthermore, Nadda called upon the public to support these special athletes and facilitate their integration into mainstream society. She urged everyone to recognize the significance of sports in providing these individuals with a sense of dignity and encouraged state governments to honour their hard work and achievements through cash awards and employment opportunities. Nadda applauded the sports ministry’s initiative to bestow cash awards of Rs 5 lakh, Rs 3 lakh, and Rs 2 lakh for winning gold, silver, and bronze medals, respectively, in international events.