PANAJI: Athletes from Goa will be eyeing a fair share of the medal glory in the Indian squad as they prepare to depart for next month’s Special Olympics World Games in Berlin 2023.
More than 7,000 athletes representing 190 delegations have already been confirmed at this edition of Special Olympics World Games 2023 in Germany, from June 17-25. India is sending a total of 280 athletes, 54 coaches, and 20 assistant staff from across 22 States, with Goa’s strength for medals surely lying in at least a few of its 23 members, including athletes in football, volleyball, powerlifting, roller skating, handball, Basketball, Judo, volleyball, track and field, cycling and beach volleyball. Goa hopes to return from Germany with at least four medals – two in team sports and another couple through individual sports. Gayatri Faterpekar will be the goalkeeper of the unified seven-a-side women’s football team, while Francis Parisapogu is a defender in the men’s seven-a-side football squad. Among individual sports, much is expected from Asif Malanur in the 400m, 800m and 4x400m relay, while Siya Sarode is seen as a medal prospect in women’s Powerlifting events. The Goan athletes have been training in two batches in Panjim and Margao for the past few weeks to overcome logistics and travel issues.
They are scheduled to leave Goa on June 7 and make a brief four-day training halt in New Delhi before departing for Berlin on June 12. Goan athletes will also be involved in Futsal (male), Athletics (male and female), Roller Skating (Female), Basketball (male and female), Judo (male and female), unified Volleyball (male and female) and Handball with the Indian squad.
“We have done our bit in providing our athletes with the best training facilities at the two venues in Panjim and Margao. It is left up to them to raise their standards during competition and return home victorious with a few medals,” noted Victor R. Vaz, National Sports Director of Special Olympics Bharat. “There’s always a challenge when it comes to multi-discipline sports. But we’ve got the solid backing of the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and Special Olympics Bharat under the chairperson Dr Mrs Mallika Nadda, to overcome all such hurdles. I can safely vouch that our athletes have been prepared for the main competition, and it is now left up to them to deliver on the big stage in June,” he stressed. Based on the unifying power of sport, the Special Olympics is a global movement that seeks to change the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. Held every two years, the Special Olympics World Games Berlin are expected to attract more than 7,000 athletes representing 190 delegations in 26 different sports disciplines. The Opening Ceremony of the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023 will be held at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on June 17.