For 22-year-old Anil Dev Dhingra, it was a life-defining moment. The snow-shoeing champion not only won the silver at the 10 th Special Olympics Bharat World Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea in February 2013, but his photograph with Burmese Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi at the event grabbed headlines the world over.
An incident of post-birth jaundice left Anil with cerebral palsy. Due to his intellectual disability, he was refused admission in most schools. In 1998, he was admitted to the Special Section of the Bharti Vidya Bhavan in New Delhi. He was six then. From there on, it was one achievement after another for the young Dev.
Rising to meet all challenges, he went on to do his graduation in Bachelor of Commerce from the School of Open Learning, University of Delhi. He also completed a six-month course in Web Development from Aptech Computer Education, as well as a six-month Automation Course from NIIT Academy. Dev has also taken a short course in General English Language from the British Council in New Delhi.
Dev has been felicitated by the Health Minster of Delhi for his achievements. He also won the gold medal in a computer competition for the intellectually disabled in Ashok Vihar, New Delhi, in 2010.
His winning spree did not end there.
Dev proved himself an excellent sportsman too. In 2000, he joined the Special Olympics Bharat programme as a roller skater and won his first medal in 2004. This was the first in a haul of medals that he would go on to win at various local, state and national championships.
When Special Olympics Bharat launched its Winter Games training programme in Himachal Pradesh, Dev’s coach Rohit encouraged him to sign up for it. He was selected as part of the 2013 Winter Games delegation for snow shoeing. He went on to bag the silver at the event which saw the participation of 313 athletes from around the world.