Berlin: India registered their first gold medals at the Special Olympics World Games 2023, here, with Geetanjali Nagvekar winning gold in the 800m Level C, to start what would be a gold rush Tuesday, and as many as three added by the end of the day’s action.
It all kicked off at the Hanns-Braun-Stadion at Olympiapark early in the morning, Geetanjali running a time of 4:31:40, almost eight seconds ahead of her competitor in second place to put India on the board early. Not long after, India added a silver in the male 800m. A heavy downpour meant action at the athletics track was halted, and the focus shifted to the indoor arenas across Berlin.
Indian athletes were in action in handball, badminton, powerlifting, swimming and roller skating. In the pool, Dinesh Shanmugam continued his form from the day prior to bringing home a silver in the Male 50m breaststroke, Level A, clocking a time of 46.59 to do so. Late in the day, Madhav also confirmed a Gold medal for the Indian contingent in Swimming in the 25M Breaststroke event.
The real highlight though, came from the roller-skating rink, Indian athletes bringing eight medals (2 golds, 2 silver and 4 bronze) through the day.
After some brilliant performances by Indian athletes in the 30m straight line, it all came down to the 500m races and buoyed by a large cheering crowd Saraswati was the first one to win gold, streaking ahead of her competitors right from the start to not just establish a lead, but also dominate the race to take the win. The Haryana athlete had only put on a pair of blades six months back and has always been seen as a high achiever from the start.
“We always knew that she had it in her but just lacked the economic support from her family,” coach Anil Kumar said. “Now that she’s got this big achievement under her belt, we hope there will be more support for her and athletes like her across the country.”
Three races later, came another high point for the Indian contingent, with two Indians, Deepen Prakash Sakhrani and Angelina Mary Poussin in the same 500m race. The duo started off neck in neck, Deepen streaking ahead after the first 100m, and slowly building up a lead. For over 400m it looked like India would lock up two medals on the podium, but Angelina was overtaken right at the close to finish a brilliant fourth. Sakhrani won the gold.
Meanwhile, India also confirmed six medals in Powerlifting with Tusharnath Singh winning a Silver Medal in Men’s 74kg Bench Press and a Bronze Medal in Men’s 74kg Deadlift. Junki Pahadin also won four Silver medals in Women’s 52kg Bench Press, 52kg Squat, 52kg Deadlift and Combined Event.
Multiple medals are in contention on June 21, with Indians in action in Athletics, roller skating, badminton, powerlifting, cycling and swimming.