An International Special Olympic Cricket Champion, Selvan. A. Manikandan returned home with the gold medal on November 3, 2009. A huge crowd welcomed him home at the Trichy Railway Station. India won the gold medal in the Special Olympics International Cricket carnival hosted by the Special Olympics Bharat, (SOB) in New Delhi from Oct 28 -30, 2009.
Manikandan is a 19 year old student of ‘Asha Deepam School and Service Centre for Mentally Challenged’ in Trichy. He has attended the school for the last ten years. As a young boy, he was a regular at Community Based Rehabilitation ce
ntre at Velluparai. He is one of three children of Mr. Arumugam & Mrs. Senbagaval.
From early age, Manikandan exhibited both an enthusiasm and ability in sports. His skills were encouraged and fostered by his mother and Asha Deepam staff. His mother always attended his sports activities in the school and outside. Manikandan’s favorite game is cricket. He also excels in running, long jump, hand ball, basket ball, volleyball and many other sports. He has won many prizes in the district level and has gone to other parts of the country to play basketball and volleyball.
Manikandan’s disabilities, including hear impairment, have challenged him in the classroom. However, he has learnt to make calculations and to cut materials for stitching with supervision and his parents are hopeful such skills will assist him in making a living.
SOB conducted Special Olympics Cricket championship selection on September 26, 2009, in Chennai for 28 mentally challenged children. With 75 points in batting, bowling, fielding, catch, and throwing, Manikandan performed very well and was chosen to be part of the Special Olympics National Cricket team.
Before departure to Mumbai for special coaching, Manikandan was recognized by the honorable District Collector, (DC) Mr. D. Soundaiya, IAS, District Disabled Rehabilitation Officer, (DDRO) Mrs. Shaymala and other VIPs of Trichy on October 9, 2009. All wished him well and encouraged him to come back with a gold medal.
In Mumbai, seven excellent cricket coaches trained the newly selected cricket team from October 18-26. Manikandan also had two months of special c
oaching at Asha Deepam under a very good coach who helped him to exhibit great skill.
When he returned with the gold medal, Manikandan received a hero’s welcome from fellow class mates, family, and the State of Tamil Nadu.
In congratulating Manikandan, the efforts of the NGOs who run special schools for the mentally challenged were also recognized. These schools were thank
ed for their interest and efforts in preparing the students to participate in International and National Special Olympics.
In Asha Deepam’s short history, it’s another significant record to produce the Second International Champion of the year 2009. It is a great honor to teach and nurture students like Manikandan in the school. His triumph has made other students proud to enjoy the success as if it is their own achievement. I am grateful to God and thank the Almighty for letting us experience God’s abundance of blessings.

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