Special Olympics: Two Indian athletes discover the joy of sound

Rincy Biju and Jyothi A., two hearing impaired basketball players, experience the joy of sound for the first time, thanks to the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes programme.

Jyothi A. (left) and Rincy Biju of the Indian women’s basketball team were all smiles after they received hearing aids.   -  PTI

Rincy Biju and Jyothi A. were in for a life-changing experience at the Special Olympics (SO) here. The hearing-impaired basketball players experienced the joy of sound for the first time, thanks to the SO Healthy Athletes programme.

The health screening covers seven aspects — podiatry (treatment of feet ailments), physical therapy, better health and well-being, audiology, sports physical exam, vision and dentistry. And the girls walked out of the ‘Healthy Hearing’ hall at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) with their lives changed forever.

“Both the girls haven’t stopped smiling since the time they have got the aids. They are very happy,” Sneha Shetye, the women’s basketball coach, told PTI.

Born in the fishing community of Kerala, the 18-year-old Rincy and her twin sister had a congenital defect in their ears. Both of Rincy’s ears are disfigured and her family had given up hope of finding a treatment. Jyothi, a year younger, is also from Kerala; she was abandoned at birth and was brought up by a school for children with special needs.

New-found confidence

After a screening here, Rincy was fitted with a hearing aid that resembles a hairband, while Jyothi received a more conventional one placed on the ear. The two girls were overcome with emotion once they realised their lives had changed forever.

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“Rincy was so so happy to receive the aid. She just wants to call her mother and tell her,” Shetye said. “Jyothi never got a hearing screening done. So, none of us knew she had a problem,” she added.

Although India lost its basketball contest to SO USA, the team was in celebratory mood. The side went out to cheer the men against Ireland and Rincy’s voice seemed energised by her new-found ability to hear. “After putting on the hearing aid, she is talking so loudly. Earlier we couldn’t hear what she used to say. She has got a new sense of confidence today,” Shetye said.