Glory to Paralympians

The Indian Paralympic team’s stunning success so far with two golds, one silver and one bronze, has been
appreciated by all Indians. This Summer Paralympics has witnessed extraordinary performances from the Indian contingent and the Government should provide state-of-the-art facilities to all players at par with the normal Olympic aspirants of the country. As India has been taking part in the Paralympics since 1968, except for 1978 and 1980, therefore, the Government should start identifying the players’ potential from an early stage as they need more time to gear up for the final competition, unlike the other Olympians. The mess created by numerous sports bodies while clearing the final list of players in some games for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil should in no way be allowed in the Paralympians’ selection. In comparison to the largest ever Indian team sent to the recently-concluded Olympics wherein the country bagged just
two medals, the performance of the Paralympians has been far better. Devendra Jhajhariya became the first Indian to have clinched two gold medals (once in Athens in 2004) in the game by setting a new world record of 63.97 metres in javelin throw. Apart from him, Mariyappan Thangavelu, Varun Singh Bhati and Deepa Malik, who won gold, bronze and silver respectively in men’s high jump and in shot put, will be a great inspiration for the 19-member Paralympics team that will be taking part in five competitions till September 18, 2016, at Rio. Malik has of course created a history by becoming the first Indian woman to win a silver medal. This Paralympics had only three women participants, but in future the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) must see that more women players are included in the games. Malik’s is a rare feat and this will be a strong motivational force for many differently abled women who aspire to see their talents recognised at the global level. To bolster the global Paralympic Movement and take it many steps ahead in India, the PCI may consider more players coming in from other differently abled categories than the currently reserved four disabilities in mobility, amputation, blindness and cerebral palsy. Sensing their specific disabilities, the Government must move towards supported decision-making under which persons with disabilities enjoy full recognition and equality so as to make right decisions about their own abilities. We have an established system of fundamental rights and freedoms, but still we need to go a long way to fight social alienation of differently abled people. This will help many more of these sportspersons to showcase their talents in international sports events in the days to come. The time has come for the country’s ossified sports establishment system to facilitate and realise the huge talent still lying unearthed among our players. One hopes the much talked about ‘Olympic
Task Force’ declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prepare the roadmap for the next three quadrennial games of 2020, 2024 and 2028, will also have a strong input for Paralympians. The Task Force, which has been entrusted to prepare a comprehensive gameplan for our Olympians, must throw light on the hurdles encountered by the Paralympians as well.

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