Special Olympics: Coach is the hero for shuttlers

The Indian coach Dhiraj Sawant says it’s been a life-change experience for him, training the badminton players at the Special Olympics World Games.

The Indian badminton team with coach Dhiraj Sawant (right) at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.   -  Special Arrangement

We may be a land of P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth but for almost all the Indian badminton players at the Special Olympics World Games here, their coach is their hero.

“He is our everything, our god,” said Rohit Nag, from Jharkhand and one of the Indian contingent’s strongest players, raising his hand above in sign language, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, the venue for badminton and many other indoor sports of the Special Olympics World Games, here on Wednesday.

For coach Dhiraj Sawant handling these players is a life-changing experience.

“It is a very different experience, my players are almost like family,” said Dhiraj.

New lessons

“Each one is different, with different ability levels, and you have to understand each one closely, give them specific training. And surprisingly, you learn a lot from them too. I learned the sign language from them, for many in this team can’t hear or speak.”

Just coming to Abu Dhabi is a dream for many, for it is their first international event for the badminton players here.

“This is a wonderful experience and I hope to return with a medal,” said Divyabharathi Elango, from Madurai.

Saina and Sindhu are both Olympic medallists…with the Indians here do something of the sort at the World Games?

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