The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 22 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Special achiever flicks all the way to South Korea

- 21-year-old mentally challenged floor hockey ace is Jharkhand’s sole Team India entrant for world winter games

Floor hockey ace Tushar Das, who hooked perfect drives and stops at a Monday practice session at JRD Tata Sports Complex, Jamshedpur, proved just why he is special.

The 21-year-old dynamo is Jharkhand’s only player to represent Team India in floor hockey at the 10th Special Olympics World Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea, from January 29 to February 5.

The global meet is a biennial event for winter athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Tushar, who lives in Old Baradwari and studies in Day Care Centre, will leave Jamshedpur for New Delhi on Tuesday.

On Republic Day, he will fly off to South Korea with the Indian contingent.

The boy, who practised for 45 minutes under his long-time coach Awtar Singh on the basketball court of JRD sports complex, was fast and focussed, two qualities that made him stand out at the selection trials in Shimla earlier this month.

Monday’s camp, hosted by Special Olympics Bharat (SOB, Jharkhand unit), was more of a morale booster for Tushar.

“He is in good form and likes to work under coach Awtar Singh. We hope he does really well at the Games,” said SOB (Jharkhand unit) assistant area director Satbir Singh Sahota.

“He’s attentive. That’s what keeps him ahead. Plus, he’s a good mover,” said coach Singh. “I am happy with his form and wish him the best for the Games.”

SOB state unit president T.V. Narendran & area director Bailey Bodhanwala also conveyed their good wishes to the Indian contingent.

Tushar, a classy player, proved himself in camps in Shimla and New Delhi in February and August last year and the third and final one in Shimla again earlier this month.

Other Jharkhand contenders were players Rajiv Singh, Purshottam Singh Dev and Krishna Verma and two coaches Raj Kumar Singh and J.N.M. Raju. But only Tushar made the cut.

Though there’s no denying his smart flicks, Shimla may also be his lucky charm.

Back in 2010, Tushar, then a teenager, was part of the 13-member Jharkhand squad that won the national floor hockey championship in Shimla.

Now, Tushar will join an elite list of Jamshedpur-based special athletes Vijay Mishra, Achal Gourav, Anita Kumari and Rajiv Singh who have represented the country’s floor hockey squad in Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Special Jharkhand players who have represented the country in the special winter games include Sanjeev Sharma (bronze in Alaska, 2001) Rajeev Singh and Vijay Mishra (Japan, 2005), Achal Gaurav and Alpana Kumari (gold and silver, both in Idaho, the US, in 2009).

Achal and Alpana, who went to meet Tushar, thumped him on the back and wished him luck with wide grins and hugs.

No words were spoken, but everyone knew that the wishes were special.

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