Special Olympics Summer Games 2019, Player Profile: Dheeraj Saini
It’s been five years since Dheeraj Saini has been focussing on cycling making it his stepping stone to progress.
He plays other sports as well but cycling gives him a different experience and time to himself which he values immensely. With the SO World Summer Games coming up in March 2019 at Abu Dhabi he has a milestone to achieve - A Gold Medal.
Dheeraj is 22 years old and has multiple disabilities. It was when he was six-year-old his parents realized that he was not like other children. Struggling through financial strains prevented them from giving exclusive attention to their son.
When the condition became conspicuous they approached the Amla Birla Kendra for Special Children, Pilani. Dheeraj was observed to be hyperactive.
He went through a psychological assessment as well as went to an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) Specialist and was advised to join the facility. He was placed under the mentorship of Mr U K Pandey, Area Director SO Bharat- Rajasthan.
At the special school he joined the Special Olympics sports program playing Softball, Volley ball, Athletics and Cycling.
Having easy access to cycles in his neighbourhood he would often borrow a cycle to use and practise, even if it was smaller than the required size.
This was until he was presented a cycle from the Special School. Owning a cycle motivated him further to hone his skills and improve speed.
Every morning he cycles for two and a half hours while providing support to his parents in doing home chores too.
His mother works in the agricultural fields while his father has a puncture repair shop. They own a cow which fetches them income through selling milk.
Dheeraj has been trained in gardening, specifically in design cutting and is currently employed by the Birla Naturopathy and Yog Kendra Pilani (Dist Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan) for maintaining their sprawling lawns.
He receives a stipend in exchange of his services here. Amongst the three, his two siblings without intellectual disabilities, it is only Dheeraj who adds to the family income.
Very recently Dheeraj bought himself a cycle out of his own income. He feels extremely proud and so do his parents who get overwhelmed as they recall his journey over the years.
Mr U K Pandey had this to say about Dheeraj,
“I have seen him grow into a responsible person committed to his work, which he does with honesty and devotion. I also am delighted to see how he communicates through whatsapp. He has a group which communicates through sign language. It is amazing how they bond with each other , stay connected and updated”