Photo Credit: World Dwarf Games
The 21-member Indian contingent team won a record haul of 37 medals, including 15 gold, at the World Dwarf Games last week. Dressed in the blue, the Indian players were among the nearly 400 athletes from 24 countries who participated in the international competition.
The 7th edition of the World Dwarf Games was held over a week at the University of Guelph in Ontario province.
Bagging Many Medals
Among the winners was the versatile player Joby Matthew, who won two gold, three silver and a bronze medal. “I had a wonderful experience. I participated in badminton doubles, badminton singles, shot put, javelin, discus throw, and power-lifting,” Matthew told the media. It was an incredible moment for India as the athletes went up to the podium to receive their medals on multiple occasions. “We are very proud to be Indian athletes,” Matthew added.
Arunachalam Nalini, who won five medals, including one gold, highlighted the importance of these international events, saying, “This is our Olympics, the little peoples’ Olympics.”
Another athlete CV Rajanna won the gold in the 200 metre sprint event while Devappa More won the 100 metre race, becoming the fastest man at the event.
The occasion of Indian Independence Day made the victory even more special, said team’s coach and manager Shivananda Gunjal. “We want to give a gift to the country on Independence Day. Coming here, we have been given so much respect, we are very proud of that. We are happy to give 15 gold medals to the country on August 15,” he said.
India’s consul general to Toronto, Dinesh Bhatia, felicitated them on August 15.
No Support From Indian Govt
These athletes, however, received no help from the Indian government. When they arrived in Toronto, they couldn’t afford hotel rooms in the city and sent out a plea for assistance on Facebook.
“We have no support from the central government or state governments or any sponsors,” Rajanna, who won three golds at the event, said, adding that he also handled all their paperwork and logistics through the trip. Most of these athletes took loans so that they could travel to Canada.
Good Samaritans Helped the Athletes
A non-profit organisation, Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation, in Canada arranged their stay at its community centre and took care of their visit to the consulate.
“Having learnt of their wonderful accomplishments at the Games and how proud they were for bringing honour to India, I so wanted them to be part of the Independence Day celebrations here in Toronto,” Brinda Muralidhar, a representative of the organisation, told media.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) also helped them by offering free rides. “The team wanted to experience a subway ride. We were so happy and honoured when the TTC offered free rides to and from Bloor (Street, where the Indian consulate is located) in honour of the athletes,” Muralidhar said.