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India at the Special Olympics: Day 1 Preview

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2005_snowshoe.jpgIndia has a 45 member squad at the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games that kick off competitive action today. The athletes are ably supported by 20 member staff members led by Air Marshall Malik.

The Indian team includes a full squad of 16 members each in the Men's and Women's Floor Hockey event, 2 members each (male and female) in Alpine Skiing and Snow Shoeing and 5 male athletes in the Novice Super Giant Slalom Snow Boarding event.

There are five events categories that kick-off today - cross country skiing, figure skating, speed skating, snow shoeing and floor hockey. Indians are participating in the last two of these.

The Snow Shoeing contingent of Ruchika Shah (20), Pinky Sunil (16), Parth Malhotra (23) a nd Rijwan (16) will descend upon Ponderosa State Park in McCall, Idaho for the Preliminary Round of the 25m race today. Later in the week, they will all also participate in the 50m event. 385 athletes from over 50 nations will be participating in the Snow Shoeing category which includes 10 events in all including the 100 m, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, 1600 m, 5 km, 4 x 100 m Relay, 4 x 400 m Relay and 25 m and 50 m races and two special unified relay races.

The Floor Hockey event is the largest sport at the games featuring 82 teams, 1175 athletes from 70 countries. There are three event categories - Men's, Women's and a Unified Team event which will feature athletes without disabilities working with the Special Olympic athletes as a part of the inclusion in all spheres drive run by the games committee.

The Indian Women's Unified Floor Hockey team will commence their campaign against Uruguay, a couple of hours later, the women have their second match against Honduras. The roster for this event shall contain a proportionate number of Special Olympics Athletes and Unified Sports Partners, with no more than 3 players allowed in the on-court line-up at anytime. The unified sports partners are always of a similar age and ability level as the Special Olympic Athletes to ensure that the integrity of the event is not compromised.

The Men's floor hockey team start-off against Cyprus, followed by a match with Egypt later in the day. The Women's team them faces-off against Honduras again, however this time with both teams fielding full strength teams without their unified sports partners.

Photograph Copyright: Special Olympics

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