India to send its largest contingent for Special Olympics

New Delhi: India will be sending 58 `special` athletes -- its highest ever for the Special Olympics world winter games scheduled to take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea from January 29.

The athletes were given a warm send-off here today for the Special Olympics world games that are held every two years alternating between summer and winter games.

The 79-member Indian contingent comprises 58 athletes with intellectual disabilities in six disciplines and 15 coaches, apart from officials. It also makes them the second biggest contingent to participate in the competition.

India who won 15 medals, including seven golds in the last winter games in 2009, is eyeing more medals this time as they are competing in six sports, namely alpine skiing, snow boarding, snow shoeing, short track speed skating, figure skating and floor hockey out of the eight-Olympic-type sport to be held there.

"For the first time we are sending players for figure skating and short track speed skating. Also, women team will particpate in the floor hockey for the first time. Hopefully, more athletes would also translate into more medals," the Head of delegation, Air Marshal H S Garkal, said.

Trained at iSkate in Gurgaon, the athletes seem confident of winning medals for the country.

"We have trained hard for the world games. We are very excited to be part of these games and hope to do our country proud," Aviraj Anil Kalangutkar, a floor hockey player, said.