From a Pakistani contingent of 82 members at the Special Olympics World Games 2011, all eyes were fixed on the 18-year-old swimmer Farah Vohra — as she stepped third in line at the podium to light the torch at the opening ceremony.
Pakistani Vohra’s selection as the torch-bearer at the Games in Athens has boosted the contingent’s confidence ahead of the competition that will start from tomorrow [Monday].
As Vohra lit the Olympic torch on Saturday at the opening ceremony of the Games – that will be held from June 25 to July 4 in the Greek capital – the Pakistani squad stared in excitement. “It’s a confidence boost not only for Farah, but for the whole squad,” delegation head Ronak Lakhani told The Express Tribune.
“It is an honour for the country, but also an incredible moment for the athletes. They saw Farah light the torch as one of their own representing the Asia-Pacific region at the podium…she was the third person in line to light the torch. It is motivating other athletes to perform as well.”
The swimmer was chosen by the Special Olympics of Pakistan to be the torch-bearer not just because she has excelled in the sport but also for her growth as an individual.
The young swimmer was born with Down’s Syndrome in Karachi. She is the only female swimmer representing Pakistan in the 25-metre backstroke and 25-metre freestyle at the Games, but according to Lakhani over the past six years, she has overcome her disability and learnt to communicate in English and Urdu while swimming at the Karachi Club. “I am very excited, it was my dream to be an Olympian,” Farah had told The Express Tribune before leaving for Athens. “I have been practicing for the Games for four hours every day, five days a week. I just love to swim.”
According to the spokesperson for the Special Olympics of Pakistan, the squad will undergo preliminary rounds today.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2011.