I was under some strain and was unable to teach an Athlete how to catch the ball while taking softball lessons with him. I just sat to take a break. Ajay took the glove and the ball, went up to the athlete, made him wear it again and showed him how to catch the ball, increasing the distance gradually. The Athlete learnt to focus and catch. I was overwhelmed and dumbstruck seeing Ajay’s patience and skill. That day , I, who has been a Coach with SO Bharat since 1991 felt proud to have learnt something from an Athlete. Ajay Rawat is an Athlete from Uttrakhand– Coach Shashi Rana
Ajay , 19 yrs , has learning disabilities with an IQ of 67. His speech is not clear. He grew up without the shelter and warmth of parental care as his father passed away before he was born and his mother abandoned him at birth. His paternal grandparents brought him up and made him join Bharat Mandir Public School , Rishikesh. His grandfather is a retired army personnel, staying in a village in Uttrakhand carrying out agriculture.
At the special school he was placed under the care of Ms Shashi Rana, SO Bharat Coach. Ajay joined the Special Olympics program in 2003. Shashi, his Mentor, fondly recalled how she used to hold his hand and make him walk on the running track, training him to keep to his own slot. She has been a special Educator and a Sports Coach for over 20 years with Special Olympics closely mentoring Athletes through Athletics and Bocce. In 2005 Ajay gained his first exposure of a Camp, participating in Bocce in Hyderabad.
Ajay was extremely fearful, he appeared restrained with people around him. It was observed that while he was unable to comprehend instructions related with academics, he took to sports instructions easily. He was inclined towards Art and Athletics. He is very patient and calm. To provide him a wider experience it was important to induct him in team sports too. Once, witnessing a basketball match, he told his coach that he will not be able to participate. He found it fast and aggressive.
Volley Ball was identified as an appropriate team sport for him. In the first few rounds, few staff members of the school along with Shashi played as team mates ensuring his active participation in playing and team coordination. He gradually became comfortable with the sport. He played in the SO Bharat Volleyball team that won a Bronze Medal at the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2015.
“Ajay is an all rounder”, says Shashi Rana. He went through Asst Coach training He actively participates in camps assisting Coaches and is also undergoing ‘Peon Training’ at the School. While undergoing the training he is receiving an amount of Rs. 5000 per month
“The greatest contribution of Special Olympics is granting the exposure to Athletes, something that they would never receive otherwise. In fact they are secluded, as a result of sympathy or apathy. Ajay has been fortunate to receive whole hearted support from his grandparents . He helps them in agriculture as well.
The camps help them gain confidence, train them in social behaviour and grants them a feeling of self- achievement. Although here we are talking about Ajay but I have observed this in so many Athletes” – Coach Shashi Rana