Dhriti was very excited as she gets to finally embark the journey to the world stage which is the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023. She recalls preparing for the Abu Dhabi Games which she, eventually, could not qualify for. The disappointment that followed was deep and long lasting. The Berlin Games gave a ray of hope and brought back a smile on her face. Dhriti is 25 yrs old having Down Syndrome. Her condition was diagnosed when she was in Grade 3. After the age of 18 she could not continue with her vocational center, as per their rules. Staying home made her overly dependent on her parents.

About five years back, she joined SO Bharat playing Table Tennis while also showing an inclination towards Handball & Basketball. She has been mentored by the Coach Mr Balaji who has been associated with SO Bharat since 2005. Dhriti is very demonstrative with her emotions. Happiness and disappointment are a frequent and overt reaction, and was observed as a concern by her Coach. Being a psychologist as well, he worked on it as a result of which, over a period, she has stabilized. Her coach plans to keep her strongly rooted in sports to continue with this progress.

Mr Balaji arranged with a sports club located near Dhriti’s residence, for her to practice TT regularly. For the past 5-6 months she has been playing with the mainstream athletes. “While her forehand is good, backhand needs more practice”, says the Coach. During the third camp for the Games, she ranked low and that triggered anxiety within her. Through continuing practices, she has improved. Her game in doubles, too has improved. Dhriti has the advantage of getting trained under two coaches, Mr Balaji and Ms Sheetal, who are constantly connected and monitor her progress meticulously.

Reminiscing her experiences from 2018 Coach Sheetal talks about the special bond they enjoy. Sheetal feels rewarded when Dhriti hands over her medicines and documents as the first thing on entering the camp. They trust each other and understand each one’s nature. She certainly feels that Dhriti plays well and that is due to the regular practices at the club.
A bond between them establishes the extra mile the coaches tread to bring out the best in the Athletes

Having trained several Athletes in sports, according to Coach Balaji, a school is too restricted to see beyond a pre-set syllabus, making sports secondary; but his experience tells him that Sports is the change that we all strive for. Sports keeps the Athletes fit and refines their social behavior while balancing their emotions. As in the case of Dhriti he trusts that sports bring a change which is definitely not restricted to the sporting field, noticeably with Athletes with Intellectual /Developmental disabilities.

Dhriti now works as an Assistant Chef in a bakery. Each day in her life is meaningfully occupied. After her job, she continues with her TT practices and smiles as she sees her dream getting a notch closer to reality