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Special Olympics badminton C'ship kicks off in Bangkok

Wednesday - November 13, 2019 9:12 pm , Category : SPORTS
Bangkok, Nov 13 (IANS) Over 150 delegates from 14 countries are taking part in the inaugural Special Olympics Asia Pacific Unified Badminton Championship, which is being held in Bangkok from November 13 to 16.
Hosted by Special Olympics Thailand and supported by the Badminton Association of Thailand, the Sports Authority of Thailand and Plan B Media, the event is a showcase of the power of sport to foster mutual understanding, respect and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities.
The championship will welcome athletes with and without intellectual disabilities to display their courage, passion and skills as part of a global movement to create positive change and drive social inclusion.
Thailand will welcome teams from countries across both the Asia Pacific and East Asia regions including Bangladesh, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Dipak Natali, Acting President and Managing Director of Special Olympics Asia Pacific, said: "I am hopeful that this inaugural unified championship will foster deeper understanding and friendships between people with and without intellectual disabilities across the region. It confirms what millions of badminton fans across Asia already know - the power of sport to elevate, unite and include."
The result of a global partnership between Special Olympics and the Badminton World Federation (BWF), this is the first unified badminton championship to be held in Asia since the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was announced during the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi, UAE, held in March 2019. The long-term alliance aims to create growth opportunities and enhance participation in badminton events throughout the world.
In the Asia Pacific region, Special Olympics has collaborated with Badminton Asia and Badminton Oceania since 2018 to equip coaches with resources and skills to deliver inclusive, high-quality badminton training to athletes with and without intellectual disabilities. Between 2017 and 2018, there was a 25,000 increase in the number of Special Olympics athletes taking up the sport across the Asia Pacific region.
Special Olympics Bharat will be represented by a team of four male and four female athletes.
Victor R Vaz, National Sports Director, SO Bharat, said: "Events like this help in building confidence of our Athletes, motivating them to achieve greater heights. Dynamic collaborations like the one between SO Thailand and the Badminton Association of Thailand, are a doorway for maintaining superior quality sport specific standards for both Athletes and Coaches. This international event speaks louder about Inclusion as it provides a platform for Unified pairs (players with and without Intellectual Disabilities) to coordinate and bond on and beyond sports"
Special athlete Kalpana Mehra expressed her delight & said, "I am very excited to take part in the Unified Badminton Championship. Sports makes me happy. I am travelling out of the country for the first time and that too representing India. I am proud."
Kalpana's Unified Partner, Arpita Malik said, "This Championship is very important to me, it's a great platform for us to showcase our talent as a team. My partner Kalpana and I have trained well, and we are hoping to clinch a medal. Playing Unified is an extraordinary experience. I am learning more than just sports."
More than 2,300 spectators are expected to attend the Opening Ceremony of the badminton championship, which will be attended by some of Thailand's biggest music and sports stars. They include Special Olympics Thailand's brand ambassadors, popular girl group BNK48 and singer Ada Chunhavajira. National badminton champion Boonsak Polsana will also lead the parade of athletes. Thailand's Minister of Tourism and Sports Pipat Ratchakitprakan will attend as Guest of Honour.

--IANS rkm/bg