For Patrick Gomes, 49yrs, speaking about his initial years with Special Olympics is like tracing the history of the movement in India.
In 1991 he participated in Athletics held in Madras, Tamil Nadu, running 100mtr, 200mtr and 400mtr. In 1995 , then a student of the Okhla Centre of Learning and Development Delhi, he was selected in football for the Special Olympics World Summer Games held at Connecticut, USA. Noel and Sanjay, his brothers, also with a learning disability, were together addressed as the ‘Olympian Brothers’. His initial years with Special Olympics, is a fuzzy memory but surely became a milestone, changing his life forever. From receiving training in making candles, paper bags etc, he turned towards sports. The world games established him as an athlete and he participated in several sporting events that followed. His participation at the Football carnival in Leicestershire, England in 1998, is estimated. Sometime then he even represented SO Bharat (formed in 2001) in Spain for a World Athletics Championship. He fondly remembers being mentored by Mr Devraj Bhadoria, the technical director of Delhi. Having participated several times in sports, Patrick swiftly moved on to get trained as a Coach.
For over 15 years he has been coaching special athletes. His training includes teaching sports and values. Sports, according to him is important for everyone as it brings positivity, fitness, and discipline. Patrick is very conscious of his fitness as well, jogging daily for two hours covering approx. 10 kms. He is proud of his Athletic personality that gives him confidence, despite his speech challenge. He lives all by himself, in his home, surrounded by caring neighbors. Dusting and cleaning his house is part of his daily routine that too keeps him fit. Difficult situations with his family did come his way, causing him distress and dejection, something he does not like to detail out.
There may have been only few events not attended by Patrick. He is a stalwart, a testimony to the role that Special Olympics plays in shaping personalities & changing lives.
He made friends, Sanjay Seth (Jolly) being his first in Special Olympics. Sports is his life. He knows no other. Had he not been introduced to Special Olympics; he is unable to fathom what else would have been there for him. Staying alone, having lost his parents and not being in touch with his brothers, makes sports the source of positivity, energy, and smile for him.