Starry eyed Salwan winners bubble with confidence

By Pragya Tiwari, IANS
Sunday, November 8, 2009

NEW DELHI - For 15-year-old Ankur Dhamal, participating in the Salwan Cross-Country Run is like taking another step towards his dream of representing India in the Paralympics.

The “marathon”, that was flagged off by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit at the Army Equestrian Centre here Sunday, saw 840 visually impaired children like Dhamal putting on their running shoes for a special 3-km race.

Dhamal, a student of the JPM School in Nizamuddin, was the fastest among the boys and understandably over the moon.

“Last year I fell down and hurt my eyebrow. As a result, I ended fifth. This year I got a good guide and it paid off. I am very happy to win,” said Dhamal, who had won gold in 400 and 800m races at Ludhiana and the US before coming here.

If Dhamal was starry eyed after his win, Jagannath was flushed with excitement of just completing the stretch.

“I want to be a cricketer and want to join the national blind cricket team,” said Jagannath, who calls Virat Kohli his favourite cricketer. “Running at Salwan makes me feel good. I first came here two years back and since then I am coming here every year.”

India’s long-distance runner Preeja Sreedharan, who along with Olympians Bombayla Devi, Dinesh Kumar and Harveen Srao from the Mittal Champions Trust, ran with the visually impaired in this 15th edition felt such races play key role in tapping the talent at the grassroots level.

“It was really tough out there. The terrain was bumpy and I was more scared than these kids. Such races will do them a world of good. There are also some very good prizes to be won which I think always motivates youngsters to do their best,” Preeja said.

Earlier, an electrifying tribal dance and Bhangra performance greeted over 30,000 children from across the country, who defied a nippy and foggy morn to take the field.

While some languidly strolled their way to the finishing line, the more serious lot huffed and puffed their way.

A shy but confident Monika Shekhawat was all smiles after coming first in the under-14 girls category.

“I am very happy to win as I worked very hard for it. I regularly participate in sports events in my school, so I was confident of winning,” said 12-year-old Monika, who dreams of following the footsteps of her idol P.T. Usha.

The cacophony of race soon gave way to magic show and a Charlie Chaplin act that kept the young athletes riveted as they treated themselves to refreshements.

The afternoon sun brought end to yet another eventful Salwan race, strewn with tales of win and failure of the athletes of future.


Visually Challenged Boys:

Winner: Ankur Dhama (JPM, Nizzamudin)

First runner-up: Srikant (The Institute of the blind, Lajpat Nagar)

Second runner-up: Vikas Yadav (GSSS BB Sewa Kuteer, RWC)

Visually Challenged Girls:

Winner: Reena Kumari (JAV, Sadiq Nagar)

First runner-up: Rinku Shikhawat (NABS, Sector-5, R.K Puram)

Second runner-up: Shabnam (NABS, Sector-5, R.K Puram)

Winner for Under-14 boys: Sandeep from GIS, Savda ( 13.32 mins)

Winner for Under-14 girls: Monika from RPS, Mahinder Garh (11.28 mins)

Winner for Under-16 boys: Ashish from Govt. Sr. Sec. School, Narala (15.23 mins)

Winner for Under-16 girls: Arpita Saini from Amrit Inter College, Muzzafar Nagar, (20.39 mins)

Winner for Under-18 boys: Rinku from G.S.S School, Jati Kalan (24.53 mins)

Winner for Under-18 girls :Seema from G.G.S.S.S, Ambika Vihar School (32.10 mins)

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