AMK stars shine bright at World Summer Special Olympics 2015
Details about the performance of the participants at the Special Summer Olympics.
It was yet another feather in Ambuja Cement Foundation’s cap when two talented athletes from Ambuja Manovikas Kendra (AMK) won prestigious medals at the World Summer Special Olympics 2015, held in Los Angeles, USA.
While Meera Kumari showcased her exceptional skills in cycling to grab a gold medal, Pawandeep Singh secured a bronze in the basketball category.
“We are extremely proud of the achievements of our star athletes,” says Mr. Suresh Thakur, Principal AMK, Ropar (Punjab). He adds, “These victories are a testament of their sheer endurance and dedication. I would like to congratulate them and wish them many more accomplishments in future.”
Mr. Thakur reminisces about the time when these two youngsters entered AMK. “Both these children were diagnosed with mild mental retardation. Meera joined AMK at the age of 13. She was always a zealous girl, eager to learn new things. Although she was self-dependent and took care of her day-to-day activities; Meera did not have a developed sense of dressing and grooming. Unlike many other girls of her age, she could not even help her mother in the household chores.”
Even at the time of joining the centre, Meera was quite an enthusiast. She enjoyed being in a group and learn new things. However, she had no particular aim in life. When asked as to what she would like to do, her answer would casually be limited to learn singing.
To make her comfortably adapt to the new environment, AMK began helping Meera learn singing. It was her hard work and determination that won her several accolades for singing at the state level.”
“But we always knew that she is capable of doing much more than that”, says Mr. Thakur. “We began her training in different sports – roller skating, badminton, and cycling. While she was an average player in the former two, it was in cycling that Meera demonstrated her competence to excel at the national and international levels. She could stretch herself to cycle for 15 to 20 kms at a time.”
“Although Meera already knew the basics of cycling, training at AMK focused on refining her spontaneity and time management required to compete at different levels. Focused approach and regular practice helped her quickly learn the techniques. This also helped her win a gold in the state level cycling tournament held in the year 2014-15 and yet another at the Special Olympics in 2015.”
Pawandeep could take care of himself, but would always shy away from socializing.
“There were instances where he would keep sitting at a place unless asked to move from there. His initiative-taking capacity was very low. So we had to strategically push him to take up responsibilities that helped him to overcome his hesitations. For example, we appointed him as the class monitor and assigned him small responsibilities. Slowly, Pawan grew in confidence and became comfortable with others.”
“He still continues to be a shy boy, however, he can express himself wherever required.”
Training Pawandeep was a decision taken by the AMK staff to leverage his physical strength and height.
“We felt that he can make use of his good height to develop the sport skills. We soon started with Pawandeep’s basketball practice and train him how to dribble, shoot, pass the ball to score maximum in a game. The basketball court in the AMK premises is of international standards. This was a major factor in improving Pawan’s competence.
It took more than a year to train both the athletes to compete and win accolades at a prestigious platform such as Special Olympics. ”
It is only due to the perseverance and resilience of the athletes and the AMK staff that the journey was possible. Today, Meera and Pawandeep, both 21-year old youngsters, beam with exuberance.
They express their opinions freely and love to be a part of the group. Mr. Thakur says, “They are inspiring other students in AMK. We see that students are now self-motivated and come forward to participate in various events. It’s very encouraging for us.”
When asked about the future plans, Mr. Thakur excitedly says, “We have already started with our preparations for the Special Olympics to be held in the year 2019. We are hopeful that many more of our students will participate in the next event.”
Let’s all of us come together in applauding Meera and Pawandeep for their achievements and wish them many more successes.