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4 Mar, 2009 05:59

Slumdog Olympic champions

Despite having never even seen snow before, two deaf and dumb children from poor areas of New Delhi have won medals at the Special Winter Olympics in the US state of Idaho.

Reena Kumari and Brijesh Sah come from homes where the entire family lives in one room and the prime concern is earning enough to survive. But they have proved that even what seems improbable is possible. At the Special Winter Olympics this year, Reena won the bronze in Alpine Skiing and Brijesh the silver in Snowboarding.

Primarily this has been possible because of hours of practice on dry ground, as well as simply the will to succeed. The Deepalaya School run by an NGO helped, and the parents put all their hard-earned money to support their children.

But for Reena’s family sending her alone overseas was a bigger challenge than raising the money.

''We were happy about her selection, but many people told me that she is a young girl and how can you send her alone? And then I thought her coach is a lady and will take care of her. So we took courage to send her alone,'' says Reena’s father Ram Vartimanji.

The girl says she is very happy with the media attention after the competition, but she probably does not realise that her win may change the lives of many in her locality.

Apart from her medal, Reena has brought back hope for all the other young children of this locality. The message that she has conveyed to them is that anything is possible if you work hard.

Reena and Brijesh themselves want to study and play more in the future.