Team India end with strong medal tally at Special Olympics
The Special Olympics World Games 2023 came to a close after an evocative, emotional and triumphant closing my ceremony at the Brandenburg gate in the centre of the city.
The gate had served as a restricted zone when the city was divided by the Wall, and has, ever since been a beacon of unity -- a fitting parable for a sporting event that celebrates unity, diversity and special skills. India finished the final day of the Games by taking their medal tally to 202 medals (76 gold, 75 silver and 51 bronze), with the last of the medals coming from the athletics track. Indian athletes notched six medals from the track events (2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze). The headlines would undoubtedly go to the gold medallists Aanchal Goyal (400m, Level B Female) and Ravimathi Arumugam (400m, Level C Female) who blew away their competition to take the top of the podium. And yet, it is important to note that the colour of the medal is not in itself a judge of the performance. Saket Kundu, who had earlier grabbed a silver medal in the mini javelin Level B, also won a bronze in the Level B 400m, a rare double act in the track and field.
Speaking about the Indian contingent's performance at the Berlin Games, Chairperson Special Olympics Bharat, Dr Mallika Nadda was keen to highlight not just their performance but also the need for inclusion and acceptance of these athletes by the mainstream.
"A huge number of our athletes have faced social discrimination of various forms, and are regarded as non-functioning members of society in various quarters. It is an obsolete thought and an inaccurate one too. Their performance in the sporting arena prove that they are capable of great feats, or strength, speed, concentration and discipline. And I hope this opens the eyes of those on the outside and proves that we need to expand this movement further and make it more inclusive."
The Games ended with an evening gathering at the Brandenburg Gate, with members of every contingent invited up on a stage to represent the spirit of unity and bring to the fore the importance of the Special Olympics movement.