Deuja claims gold, Adhikari nets bronze in LA

Los Angeles, July 30

Nepal claimed two medals in the Special Olympics World Games at the University of Southern California here on Wednesday.

Ashish Deuja won gold medal in unified football tournament, while Pradip Adhikari claimed bronze in 200m race. Deuja, who is also slated to compete in Bocce, was the member of the Team Hope that won the medal. Unified football is a five-a-side tournament in which each team consists of two normal players and three with Intellectually Disabilities.

Pradeep Adhikari, one of the eight torch bearers who brought the flame into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the opening ceremony on April 25, finished third in 200m finals. Adhikari, who had covered the distance in 37.23sec in preliminary round, improved to 35sec in finals.

Deuja said he was happy to win the medal. “It feels good when you win the medal. I scored a goal in the team’s victory,” he said. “The environment here is awesome.” Adhikari said he was thankful to the Special Olympics Nepal for providing with such an opportunity. “It was an okay feeling in the beginning. Once we started talking to friends and shared light moments with others, I felt awesome,” he added.

Head coach Ganesh Parajuli said he was satisfied with the players’ performance. “This is a different platform and winning or losing matters less,” said Parajuli. “Participation is what matters for such athletes as the aim of Special Olympics is to bring change society through sports,” he said. “These players were different when they were back home and I have found drastic changes in them in the last couple of days,” he said.

“Change in attitude and behaviour is more important than winning a medal. They can now ask for their needs and demand what they want from their parents when they return back home. The case was different before coming to this event. Now they are a different personality. I think we have succeeded in our mission,” Parajuli added. “We still have few events to go and hopefully we will get some medals. But I am satisfied with what all these athletes have been doing as this is a movement more than a competition,” said Parajuli, who has been in this field for the last 27 years as a coach, teacher and therapist.

Special Olympics Nepal has fielded five players in athletics and bocce in the World Games. Nepal has been taking part in the event for the last eight years and President Dr Jyoti Sherchan said the efforts of bringing change in society through sports was the best way. “The most important aspect is to be social and these games teach people with Intelligence Disabilities to adjust them with other people,” he said.

“These players needed a separate attendant in the past, but when they came into sports they have been able to help their families. And that is what we want,” he said.