Special success

Despite an infrastructure for the disabled in Pakistan, the Pakistani contingent at the Special Olympics won laurels.

Editorial July 10, 2011

The 82-member Pakistani contingent that has just returned from the recently concluded Special Olympics in Greece did not receive a red-carpet welcome. There were no crowds to cheer wildly as they stepped out of the arrival gates and few garlands were placed around necks (eventually they were feted by the prime minister). Even in the media, there has been only fleeting mention of their quite remarkable achievements. Yet the fact is that the 82-member squad competing among 7,500 intellectually challenged ‘special athletes’ from around the world performed better than their able-bodied counterparts have done in many similar events . They claimed a total of 56 medals including 17 gold medals, in a variety of sports ranging from athletics to cycling and swimming.

This is quite a remarkable achievement coming from athletes who belong to a country where little attention is given to the rights and needs of the physically or mentally disabled. Facilities are almost non-existent for their education, work opportunities are limited and only a few are able to participate in sport or other leisure activities. The specialisation required to assist those with mental handicaps is entirely unavailable outside major urban centres.

Given these limitations, the achievements of the Pakistani squad are all the more remarkable. They need to be recognised more enthusiastically, as a means to encourage these athletes but also to inspire others to do all they can to excel. We need to build greater acceptability for such citizens in a society that is traditionally reluctant to accept difference. The remarkable efforts of the Pakistan Special Olympic squad offer an opportunity to remind families that children with mental difficulties have within them a great deal of potential. This needs to be built on. The Pakistani athletes at Greece have set an example of what can be achieved. Their effort needs to be projected far more generously by the media and by organisations which seek to further the cause of ‘special’ people in our society.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2011.


Noble Tufail | 10 years ago | Reply

Your are the Heros guys... among many unsung heros. God Bless you and Pakistan.

Nwaq | 10 years ago | Reply

It is so sad that our media has not given them proper coverage as they give to other more juicy events.Look what they have done without any proper guidance or facilities.I salute them all and their families and pray they should be highlighted and be given rewards as deserved.

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