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Millennium Post

Praised by media, ignored by government

Even winning gold for the country in the biggest possible international sports meet doesn’t seem to be enough to draw the government’s attention. Despite India winning a record haul of 47 medals in the recently concluded Special Winter Olympics 2013 in Seoul, three ‘differently-abled’ athletes from Pahadganj area, Rajkumar (figure skating, gold), Alpana (snow-shoeing, gold) and Suman (hockey, gold), are still waiting in vain to get their share of fame and money for hoisting the tricolour at an event of Olympics’ stature.

The government’s apathy to reward the special athletes, who overcome every obstacle on their way, also gets reflected by the manner in which their triumphs go largely unnoticed. Unlike earlier, sportspersons in India, Haryana in particular, are now rewarded handsomely for making the country proud at an arena like Olympic Games. But the plight of the differently-abled athletes, who also work equally hard to break the barriers of human ability, largely remain unnoticed in our country. Even record medal hauls fail to yield desired results.

Rajkumar Tiwari’s story of the struggle his family had to go through before he tested success at Special Olympics is indeed admirable. Son of a vender in Sadar Market, Rajkumar lives in a small single-room house with his parents and four siblings. Battling with hyperactivity disorder and low IQ score, Rajkumar didn’t even have money to spend on training. But he overcame all the odds to clinch gold in figure-skating. His family spent everything it had had groom Rajkumar. With his father earning just around Rs 4,500 per month, affording a single practice session at Gurgaon’s Ambience Mall, which costs Rs 480, was next to impossible. Luckily, the entire neighborhood chipped in to give Rajkumar a chance to chase his dreams.

Alpana, who won gold in 50m snow-shoeing, too worked extremely hard to realise her dreams. Though she lost her father at a very early age, Alpana never let any hindrance come between herself and success. Special Olympics central Delhi coach Rohit Manchandani, who is closely following these athletes’ careers for the last six years, said, ‘These athletes are very bright. But though we expect the government to treat every sportspersons equally, it is not the case in our country.’
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