Wednesday, June 19, 2024

‘Para-athletes have shown us how to live life’, says Anju Bobby George

Top sporting personalities continue to grace the inaugural Khelo India Para Games in Delhi. It was the turn of two famous sportspersons – former world championship medallist Anju Bobby George and ex-Indian hockey captain Viren Rasquinha — to soak in the emotionally-charged Games on Wednesday.

These Games were aimed to foster the message of inclusivity and dignity towards specially challenged athletes and Anju Bobby George highlighted how the Khelo India Para Games 2023 are “bridging the gap between different sections of the society.”

“During our time, para was a separate entity and they would not get equal recognition. But now they are receiving an equal platform as able-bodied athletes. The competition and support are at par and especially in these Games, the entire India is getting a chance and all the kids are so elated to get an opportunity to compete,” said 2003 World Athletics Championship long jump bronze winner Anju.

“These athletes are showing us how to live. Their adversity has not stopped them from achieving their goals. They are continuing to play sports. They have done exceptionally well across all international tournaments. This is a wonderful initiative by the Government of India,” she added.

Former Indian men’s hockey captain Rasquinha also spent quality time at the Khelo India Para Games at JLN Stadium. He and Anju were part of the award ceremonies. Rasquinha spoke on how KIPG will help in developing a pool of talent in India.

“When most people see para-athletes, they see disability. But the more important thing is to see their immense ability. All of them are so talented – and the Khelo India Para Games inaugural edition in 2023 is a wonderful initiative.

“Competition is a big part of sport. It is important to have strong domestic competition. Khelo India Para Games will be a big boost for athletes across India,” Rasquinha said.

Three-time Paralympics-medal winning javelin superstar Devendra Jhajaria applauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for organising the Games and explained how the tournament will start a new chapter in Indian sporting history.

“The first para-athletics championships were held in Bangalore in 2000, 23 years ago. At the time, we did not have many facilities. Now, looking at all the facilities being provided here, I can honestly say that one man has changed the face of the country – Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had the vision to make India a developed nation. I can say with confidence that we are on our way to completing his vision.”

“I also met a member of the German delegation who told us that they had not seen a tournament of this scale. We are spreading our wings across the world. Today, I can honestly say that the differently-abled athletes of the country are determined to make a name for themselves. As a senior athlete, I can say that this is the face of a new, developing India,” he added.

The inaugural Khelo India Para Games 2023 in New Delhi are being played across three venues – Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, IGI Stadium and Karni Singh Shooting Range. Over 1,400 athletes across seven disciplines – athletics, shooting, archery, football, badminton, table tennis, and powerlifting – are competing.



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