Special Olympics gold medalist Sunitha Lobo gets rousing welcome

Sunitha Lobo, an inmate of Manasa Rehabilitation and Training Centre at Pamboor in Udupi district, who was part of the 11-member floor hockey team from India which won a gold medal at the Special Olympics World Winter Games held in Pyeongchang, South Korea from January 29 to February 5, was given a rousing welcome in her hometown on Saturday February 9.


She was warmly welcomed at the Katapady bus-stand by Manasa Centre and sports fans besides various organizations, citizens of Katapady and surrounding areas and school children.

Udupi zilla panchayth president Upendra Nayak welcomed Sunitha with flower garlands from the district administration. Udupi zilla panchayath members Ida Gibba D’Souza, Githanjali Suvarna, former Taluk Panchayath president Devadas Hebbar, Nagarika Samiti secretary Nityananda Olakadu, former zilla panchayath member Gerald Fernandes and many other dignitaries and huge number of fans of Sunitha were present.

Sunitha Lobo was taken in a procession in a special vehicle up to the Manasa Rehabilitation and Training Centre Pamboor. Students from Pamboor church school, and Narayana Guru English Medium School and inmates of Manasa Centre, Members of Dharmasthala Self Help Group, autorickshaw Drivers of Katapady, Bantakal, Shankerpura, Various Yuvaka Mandala’s of Padubelle took part in the procession.


After the procession, a brief felicitation programme was organized by Manasa centre. Pamboor Holy Cross Church Parish Priest Fr Charls Lewis felicitated Sunitha Lobo by presenting a shawl, garland and fruits.

Kaup MLA Lalaji R Mendon inaugurated the felicitation programme by lighting the lamp. In his Message Lalaji said that Every one is born well but it is later their troubles are identified. Manasa Institution is a ray of hope for such who are mentally and Physically disabled in some way or the other. Here they get good training in sports apart from providing good education. It is a pleasure seeing these children doing well in the International Level. Such children must be encouraged and brought to the main stream, he said.

The Play Ground necessitated for the institution had been finalized but due to some technical problem that has not materialized, Those incapacitated need to be rehabilitated through allocating sites to them, very soon after holding discussions with the Local Panchayath the Play Ground for the Institution would be made available, he said.

Sunitha sharing her experiences in South Korea with the Media said : "I found it difficult to play there since South Korea is very cold and that there are snow flakes falling. Yet we played well facing the odds. I hurt my leg thrice during the games, yet I played undaunted. Our team effort helped us winning gold" she said.

Mansa center Trustee Remidiya D’Souza in her introductory speech said that We are all very happy over Sunitha’s performance. We never really expected the gold medal. The competition in floor hockey is tough. The Manasa Centre had received more support from the public than government. The students from the centre had won 10 medals in international-level meet for special children. These included five gold, four silver, and a bronze she said.

Former minister Vasanth V Salian, All India Christian Union Karnataka state president Elroy Kiran Crasto, Entrepreneur Rocky D’Silva, Catholic Sabha Udupi zonal President William Machado were present as the chief guests.


Manasa Trust president Remidia D’Souza, principal of Manasa Rehabilitation and Training Centre Sr Thelma were present on the dais.

Speaking on the occasion, Lalaji Mendon said, “Education is not limited to learning from text books. A proper blend of academics and extra-curricular activities is a must. It is a not easy to train differently-abled children,” he added, complimenting the teachers for their efforts.

Lauding the Manasa institution, he said, “The centre has been doing its best to bring special children to the forefront. With Sunitha's feat, the institution has won laurels internationally."

"Proposal to start a playground for the institution has been placed before the deputy commissioner, who is expected to give the green signal soon," he said.

Manasa Managing trustee Remedia D'Souza said, “Over the last 16 years, our students have taken part in 6 Special Olympics and won 4 gold medals, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals. Every year we need about Rs 1.50 crore, however, we receive just Rs 5 lacs and nothing has been granted by the state government. Udupi Sri Krishna Math has been providing mid-day meals to the institution."

Former MLA Vasanth V Salian, Fr Charles Louis, William Machado, Kiran Crasta, Sachitananda Bhat, Alphonso D'Costa, Helen Lobo, Sr Thelsa and others were present at the occasion.

Hundreds of students of Manasa Rehabilitation and Training Centre, their parents, teachers and local representatives and members of associations gave Sunitha Lobo a rousing welcome.

As Sunitha arrived, celebrations were at peak in the region. Students of Manasa Rehabilitation and Training Centre welcomed their friend with flowers.

Ackowledging the warm welcome and addressing the reporters, Sunitha Lobo said, “Winning the gold in Olympics has brought me immense joy. The competition has given me experience. It was a tough competition. It was very cold in South Korea, and I was injured thrice. However, our team kept up its spirit till the end to win the gold. We never gave up hope, and that has brought us victory. The celebration has doubled my confidence. I will stand on my own feet, look after my family and continue in sports."

Helen Lobo, mother of Sunitha Lobo also expressed her joy on the occasion. She said, “Parents should nurture confidence among children, no matter how they are. I am proud of my dauther. Though we are not so well-to-do, we have received love, support and trust from the people."

Nasik band and dancing dolls were part of the celebration. Lavina, sister of Sunitha, zilla panchyat member Githanjali Suvarna, former zilla panchayat member Gerald Fernandes were also present.


Add comment