At a tender age of 15, Prithvi, a keen powerlifter, has decided to make sports his future. He is an athlete with Down Syndrome and is a slow learner. He is also determined to win when he enters the sports arena. His smile and friendly demeanour which is hard to cover, can be safely attributed to his doting mother, maternal grandparents and his coaches Sanket Arekar & Aman Vohra. All of them created a world of acceptance and achievement for Prithvi, helping him navigate through a broken family and his personal challenges.

Ms Niyateey Shah, a single mother, had a flying career in marketing when Prithvi was born. An immediate diagnosis of Down Syndrome created a sudden pause in her fast-paced life throwing her into a storm of questions that received no answers. Some family members supported them heart and soul while few others abandoned them. The struggle to get things ‘corrected’ began queueing up massages, therapists etc. Lack of acceptance and subject to judgement by most, were the tougher challenges to be overcome or simply overlooked.

It took about 4-5 months for her to come to terms with her son’s condition. Prithvi is her only child and actually, the one who relayed signals of ‘Do not give up on me”, by the small things that mattered. His smile or him pushing his limits to stand up or walk or even clearly stating his likes/dislikes, drew his mother closer to him and look beyond his ‘disability’. Physical training seemed a better option compared to everything else. He tried Roller Skating, Badminton etc. Powerlifting, suggested by his father, Samrat Sengupta, seemed logical for muscle development. This was Prithvi’s choice as well. Through all this, his weight had to be, and even now, closely monitored. Prithvi is mindful of following a protein rich diet. Starting with sports early in his life has made him like to follow discipline. Excepting Sundays, he goes every day to the gym and keeps junk food at bay.

Prithvi’s mother attributes his achievements to his Coaches. According to her, Sanket Arekar took Prithvi on when he couldn’t even jump, teaching and mentoring him into basic life skills like, eating fruits etc. “While Sanket was ‘a god sent angel’ placing Prithvi on the right path in the beginning, Aman Vohra packaged, trained and presented Prithvi in a way to the world”, said she.

Last year, Prithvi won four gold in the sub-junior category 2023 Asian Classic Powerlifting Championship held in Johor Bahru Malaysia. Recently, he participated at the National Powerlifting Championship held in Kanpur, UP from 25-29 Feb 2024, winning two gold (Bench press and squat) and a silver in Deadlift. Prithvi ‘loved’ the event that combined 47 Athletes and 15 Coaches from 15 States of India. He enjoyed being one of the walkers at the ‘Walk for Inclusion’ organised during the event. He enjoyed with his co-athletes, tying someone’s belt, patting another, cheering and bonding, all the way.

Prithvi harbours other talents as well. He is a wonderful ‘baker’ who often churns out delicious cup cakes and cookies. He has been training for the past three years.

“Prithvi gave me hope. He loved our pet and showed me how he is capable of loving and bonding. Sports has undoubtedly instilled discipline while attributing his physical and mental well-being. Special Olympics has given him friends and joy. The Coaches and officials are sensitized and do not have to be explained time and again, his condition and it’s management. They know how much to push to help the athletes achieve their best. I feel comfortable when Prithvi is at a Special Olympics event. I know in this space everyone understands my child and he is safe”, Ms Niyateey Shah.